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[IMGCAP(1)]FORT WORTH-LNR Property Corp. will try its hand at developing the Presidio, a 388-acre site that has traded for the second time this year and third time in four years. The developer has bought 300 acres, with options for more, from a Las Vegas-based investment group that was asking $72 million or $4.25 per sf for the North Fort Worth dirt.

Unlike its predecessors, the Newport Beach, CA-based LNR’s local team plans to start with multifamily rental housing instead of retail at the crossroads of Interstate 35W and US Hwy. 287. The development site is in direct competition with Alliance Town Center, being developed by Trademark Property Co. of Fort Worth and Hillwood, and an unnamed lifestyle project, planned by Dallas-based Margaux Development and Ellesmere Corp. of Vancouver, on the Presidio’s southern boundary line.

Donald Cape, COO for Diversified Asset Planning, says he’s bound by a confidentiality clause so he’s limited as to what he can say about the pass, which his firm acquired in February from Legacy Capital Co. of Dallas after its plans fell apart to partner with Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group on the retail component. Cape tells GlobeSt.com that Diversified purchased the Presidio land and 129 acres in Austin, also dubbed as Presidio, purely for investment purposes. The Austin site, situated at the crosshairs of Texas 183 and Toll Road 620, is being marketed for $8 per sf or $348,458 per acre, according to the seller’s website.

“LNR is buying a dynamic piece of property with tremendous opportunities for them. It’s time for that real estate to be developed,” Cape says. “We feel it’s the best piece of real estate in North Fort Worth. Obviously, LNR sees the same thing.” Diversified was marketing the site, but it wasn’t a case of a best and final. “They came in with an offer. They were a qualified buyer,” he says.

Ken Kristofek, senior vice president of LNR’s Southwest region, wasn’t available for an interview to discuss the development plan in depth. In an e-mail, he did say that infrastructure work will begin in January on a 164-acre first phase and 660 units of multifamily rental. Once the dirt work is done, LNR will market the phase one tracts to developers for office, medical office, fitness, hotel, restaurants and retail projects.

According to Diversified’s website, the Presidio land has 45.5 acres of designated multifamily land, 13.5 acres for a hotel, 36.8 acres for office and the balance for retail and restaurants. At build-out, LNR expects the Presidio to contain more than one million sf of retail, restaurants and shops, 1,300 units of multifamily rental product and 750,000 sf of hospitality, fitness, office and medical office space.

“The Presidio’s land has some challenges in terms of topography and flood plains. It’s a difficult project to execute,” says Don Silverman, president of Margaux Development. “Right now, you won’t know until 2010 or 2011 if that deal makes sense.”

Silverman says he will decide in January when ground will break on his land, citing the North Tarrant Parkway expansion and un-built bridges as part of the delay. If all goes as planned, his project will open in 2009 or 2010.

Meanwhile, Hillwood has a head start on the corridor’s development in retail and multifamily development with its emerging Monterra Village brand. Market watchers agree on one point: it will take some time before the corridor can support all three developers’ plans.

LNR’s Presidio play is its largest undertaking in Dallas/Fort Worth. And, it’s holding an option for additional land. Cape says he’s “not at liberty to discuss the transaction because of the confidentiality agreement we have with the buyer.” As a result, he’s not saying if Diversified, known for its Texas hotel developments, has retained a partnership stake or its plans for the 88-acre balance.

[IMGCAP(2)]As for its Austin site, Cape isn’t ruling out a development partner versus an outright sale or even just maintaining a piece of the land for a hotel project. It has 53 acres entitled for multifamily development, 11 acres for townhouses, eight acres for a hotel and 26 acres for retail and restaurants. “We’ve had strong interest because it’s adjacent to the Metro Rail station and surrounded by a freight train of growth,” he says, adding he’s “hopeful that the right person sees its potential” as LNR did in Fort Worth.

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