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FORT WORTH-A trio of joint venture partners, getting a 22-acre site off market, has penciled a May 15 groundbreaking for a 336-unit class A multifamily complex in south Fort Worth. The 18-building Republic Deer Creek will deliver in February 2009.

The all-in development cost is still being fine-tuned by the development trio, which is comprised of White-Conlee Builders Ltd. of San Antonio, Beucler Properties LP of Dallas and Austin-based Steelwood Property Co. LLC. The JV’s site has 850 feet of frontage along Interstate 35W and sits at the northwestern corner of an on-off ramp at McPherson Boulevard.

“It’s a great site because of the Interstate 35 exposure. The frontage is what makes it such a great site,” stresses Steve Oden, Steelwood’s owner. Republic Deer Park is similar to the JV’s other project in Fort Worth, the 308-unit Park Vista on the city’s north side. Oden tells GlobeSt.com that a third site has been identified in the city plus the JV has a contract pending for land in Frisco in far north Dallas.

NAI Huff Partners’ principal Lester Day says he was marketing a commercial property for Forestar USA Real Estate Group Inc., the Austin-based division of Temple-Inland Inc., when the company’s execs broached the possibility of a sale of its interstate-fronting claim. “Good multifamily locations are hard to find in south Fort Worth,” Day says, adding he put two sites on the JV’s desk. “This was the most ready to be developed and the site that was the most developable.” At the hard corner is a 7.3-acre site now being marketed for retail by NAI Huff’s John Sledge.

The ready-to-go zoned land, mapped for 15.3 acres per acre, sits across the street from the 213-bed Huguley Memorial Medical Center at 11801 South Freeway, south of two large business parks and just north of roughly 500,000 sf of retail straddling the Burleson-Crowley lines. The site’s sweet spot is the submarket is “vastly underserved” by the multifamily sector, according to Day.

Oden says the JV has zeroed in on Tarrant County because “it’s got a vibrant economy with the Barnett Shale.” He also points out that multifamily sector fundamentals are strong not just in Fort Worth, but all across the metroplex. The JV is planning to develop at least three complexes per year. He says the third Tarrant County site, if all goes smoothly, could be under construction by year’s end.

Oden says the JV is planning merchant builds and long-term holds with the projects. The decision most likely will be made at completion.

B&A Architects of San Antonio designed Republic Deer Park with units averaging 800 sf. The mix is 54% one-bedroom, 41% two-bedroom and the balance with three-bedroom floor plans. Oden says the two- and three-story buildings will be complemented by a sports courts, resort-style swimming pool and pavilion with barbecue pits. He says the blended average unit rent works out to $850 per month.

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