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HOUSTON-Specific plans and timelines for the $700-million WaterLights have been unveiled with horizontal construction now underway on phase one. By early 2010, the development will feature a waterway connection to a 30-acre lake, 300 condominiums, a “restaurant row,” hotel, class A office building and about 95,000 sf of retail.

The 150-acre development, which will sit at the junction of Texas 288 and Beltway 8, will provide more than standard retail fare. “WaterLights will be upscale boutiques, most of them not affiliated with chains,” says David Goswick, executive director of Historic Real Estate Inc. of Houston. “Pearland Town Center just opened up and that has all the retailers you’d normally find at a traditional mall. We’re not trying to copy that.”

Goswick will be discussing the WaterLights District plan this afternoon at Cityscape USA in New York City as part of a discussion about US investment opportunities. He says WaterLights District’s second phase will overlap phase one, with both being built on about 60 acres. Goswick says phase two, which will be heavily weighted with residential units, will begin in approximately 18 months. “We’re permitted for 1,400 residential units on the 60 acres,” he adds. The plan also calls for 700 hotel rooms targeting the Texas Medical Center.

Phase three will consist of NanoWorld Headquarters, a nanotechnology research center affiliated with Rice University of Houston, and a 7,500-seat WaterLights arena. Both projects will be built on 70 acres. The remaining 20 acres on the project’s southern edge is “flex space,” as Goswick puts it.

“We’re working with the city of Pearland and the parks and recreation department to extend Presidential Park and Gardens along Clear Creek in our direction,” Goswick tells GlobeSt.com. “We’d end up with a walking and jogging trail through a wonderful garden system.” Landscape architect Clark Condon is working in conjunction with Historic Real Estate Inc. and the City of Pearland on that project.

WaterLights District is the brainchild of Historic Real Estate principal Richard P. Browne, who developed the Woodlands and Columbia, MD. Browne did much of the planning and design for WaterLights District with Development Design Group Inc. of Baltimore. The developers are seeking LEED certification for the project.

Goswick estimates the entire project will take about five years to build out although there could be more development to come in the area. He acknowledges the company is acquiring more property, but declined to be any more specific.

“The Texas Medical Center is the driving force of this,” Goswick says. “There is $3 billion of construction going on there, with a projected 25,000 new jobs within the next six years.” WaterLights District is tailored toward providing an affordable residential solution to the employment center while offering an interesting destination location.

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