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HOUSTON-Trademark Property Co. is beginning a strategic land investment division with an 824.74-acre acquisition in northwest Houston. The Fort Worth-based buyer plans to develop a master-planned project with 500 acres dedicated to single-family and multifamily units and 300 acres of commercial space.

Trademark bought the land along US Hwy. 290 from McAlister Co. Investment Real Estate of Houston. Page Realty Partners Ltd. and Stroll Properties, both from Houston, represented the seller while Trademark had in-house representation doing its bargaining.

William Morris, Trademark’s senior vice president of the land investment group, tells GlobeSt.com that the next steps will be to complete entitlement work and create municipal utility districts for the as-yet unnamed project. The goal is to have parcels ready to sell and develop by the middle of 2009. Morris anticipates it will take three to six years to fully build out the land.

“With about 500 acres of residential, we’d envision between 1,000 and 1,500 units of single-family and multifamily product,” Morris says. At this stage, it’s too soon to estimate how much commercial space will come out of the ground. “We have three miles of frontage on 290 and another mile and a half on Hempstead,” he says, adding the space will be “indicative of commercial uses along the freeway.”

Morris says Trademark will handle the big-picture master-planning, but it’s uncertain if it will end up doing the commercial vertical development. “The way this deal is structured, we have the first option to develop the commercial,” he says. On the residential side, Trademark’s strategy is aimed at keeping options open and flexible enough to allow for possible partnerships as well as land sales to other developers.

Morris says strategy behind the land investment division is to form partnerships with private equity investors to buy 200 to 800 acres for development and resale. The target markets are Houston, Denver, Nashville and suburban Chicago. “We really believe that land is an underserved asset class and we think there are good fundamentals to buy strategically in markets that are growing and creating jobs,” he explains. “What we’re trying to find are the best pieces with mixed-use potential.”

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