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DENTON, TX-Atlanta-based IDI is moving forward on the 1,145-acre Port 35 North Business Park, a city-altering vision for more than $750 million of air- and rail-served industrial, retail and multifamily projects. The developer has been working pre-application channels since last summer, but word is it’s on the verge of submitting a master plan to city officials.

IDI is under contract or close to closing on all or part of development land with boundaries like Denton Airport, a Kansas City Southern Railroad line that parallels Interstate 35W and Texas 380. The seller is the Rayzor family, which is part of a development partnership for the estimated $850-million Rayzor Ranch that’s under construction across I-35W. Sources say the developer and property owner have been discussing the deal about three years.

Although due diligence is still under way, IDI has floated a flyer around Dallas/Fort Worth that shows a breakdown of an 11.4-million-sf plan, which is subject to change as it works through the city approval process. IDI has ticketed about 746 acres for a variety of industrial uses, 155.4 acres for commercial projects, 65.8 acres for residential development and 106.1 acres of open space. The plan includes a technology park and student housing for the nearby University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University. Industrial brokers say the flyer itself is a testament to IDI’s commitment to proceed.

IDI’s master plan will be hitting economic development leaders’ desks just as work is about to begin on construction of Western Boulevard, a two-lane road that’s expandable to four and bisects the IDI stronghold. The road has been on the city’s wish list roughly 18 years. When the roadwork is done, work should be ready to start on a 1,000-foot extension to the 6,000-foot runway at Denton Airport. As those projects push ahead, Denton leaders are in the process of getting written commitments from business owners to create a 1,600-acre Foreign Trade Zone. The move carries a $50,000 tab so the plan is to pro-rate the cost among FTZ stakeholders like IDI.

“It’s a good time to be in economic development in Denton, TX,” says Linda Ratliff, the city’s economic development director who’s tag teaming the many projects with Karen Dickson, vice president of economic development for the chamber of commerce. Ratliff says the IDI plan is the largest private sector project in the city’s history, with Rayzor Ranch running a close second.

In recent weeks, IDI also disclosed plans to start work in March on a 672,678-sf cross-dock building, one of four distribution centers in a 128-acre first phase for a 3.4-million-sf plan on 204 acres in North Tarrant County. IDI’s Speedway Distribution Center is north of Hillwood’s AllianceTexas along Interstate 35W and just miles from the proposed Port 35 North.

“I think it will complement Alliance more than compete with them,” Ratliff tells GlobeSt.com. She foresees Port 35 North as being a conduit and possibly a less-costly alternative for companies that want air service, but don’t necessarily rely on as many do at AllianceTexas. And, she adds there already have been discussions about through-the-fence access for IDI’s airport-abutting land.She also points out that the IDI site is strategically positioned at the split of Interstate 35W and 35E, putting Dallas, Fort Worth, Oklahoma and all points north within reach for the trucking industry.

“This is all very exciting,” Dickson says. “There’s a lot of synergy going on. And, there are huge chunks of land being gobbled up on the west side of Interstate 35 W and the north side of US Hwy. 288.”

Ratliff, though, realizes there is a long way to go before ground breaks. If the master plan is submitted in the near future, it could still be one year before IDI is ready to push dirt. But she, like industrial brokers, believes the commitment is firm. “I have a very good feeling that it’s going to move forward,” she tells GlobeSt.com.

IDI’s Doug Johnson, vice president and regional development office in Dallas, is traveling, but has e-mailed a comment about IDI’s interest in developing Port 35 North. “IDI considers this a prime location to serve the future needs in Dallas/Fort Worth,” he writes. “The business park will provide direct access to Interstate 35 East and Interstate 35 West as well as the rising container activity at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe intermodal facility down the street and the ever-growing population base along the Dallas North Tollway.”

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