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[IMGCAP(1)]DALLAS-With demolition under way on a 70-acre infill tract, Prescott Realty Group is ahead of schedule for the $300-million-plus Lake Highlands Town Center in Northeast Dallas. If work stays on track, the site will be completely scraped by March, infrastructure completed by year-end 2008 and vertical construction ready to begin in January 2009 on the transit-oriented development.

Prescott executives and Dallas officials are holding a ceremonial groundbreaking this morning for the long-awaited redevelopment. Coming down are 1,400 apartment units at the intersection of Skillman and Walnut Hill roads, where demo work is about 20% done. Going up will be 1,700 residential units, 280,000 sf of retail, an 80,000-sf to 100,000-sf office building, roughly 100 townhouses, 11 zero lot-line dwellings and a public amphitheater.

“This is a ceremony for the neighbors who’ve been very excited about this project,” says Vance Detwiler, president of the Dallas-based development group. “It’s what the neighborhood has wanted for the past six or seven years.”

[IMGCAP(2)]Detwiler says negotiations are under way with retail anchors and multifamily developers for tracts when the land’s ready for vertical construction. In the first phase, the developer plans to build the majority of the retail component, which will be topped off with about 40,000 sf of office space and 600 residential units on buildings’ upper floors. The initial phase includes townhouses and zero lot-line houses.

Detwiler tells GlobeSt.com that Dallas-based Retail Connection expects to have the anchors in hand in the first quarter and he will have the multifamily deals ready to announce by midyear. “We’ve been very happy with the reception we’ve had,” Detwiler says.

The office assignment has yet to be awarded. The freestanding building will be part of the second phase, which Detwiler says will start to come out of the ground “closely after the first phase starts.”

The 1,100-unit balance of the residential component will be developed in phases in 300- to 600-unit increments, according to Detwiler, whose company plans to develop 60% of the residential product on its own. Condos and high-end apartments will come on line as for rent and for sale product.

The 20 to 22 months of infrastructure work will add lakes, 20 acres of parks and trails, streets and utilities. “There’s a lot of dirt work,” Detwiler emphasizes. Due to the lay of the land, the first construction will be south of Walnut Hill Road and east of Skillman.

Despite the extensive groundwork, Detwiler points out that Lake Highlands Town Center is a true mixed use. By the Urban Land Institute’s definition, it takes three different uses to pass the litmus test, but Lake Highlands Town Center is sporting five.

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