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ALLEN, TX-A little more than three months after its grand opening, the one-million-square-foot mixed-use Watters Creek at Montgomery Farm has snared more tenants for its 550,000-square-foot retail component. Eight new tenants have committed to the project for a total of 76,000 square feet committed, bringing the retail portion to 81% occupancy.

On the retail side, tenants consist of Charming Charlie, Flirt Boutique, Filthy Rich, Tangerine Salon an Aveda Lifestyle Salon, Modia Home and Sweet and Sassy. Also on tap are two restaurants, Blue Fish, serving a mix of Asian-inspired cuisine and fresh sushi and Village Burger Bar, the popular West Village restaurant offering one-of-a-kind burgers, salads and desserts. The retailers, which will open shop at the project at U.S. Hwy. 75 and Bethany Drive during the next quarter, join DSW, Point Mobl, Clix Portrait Studios, SampleHouse & CandleShop; and Jean Junkie, which opened late 2008.

“At the grand opening, we had only 34 retailers and restaurants open. By spring we’ll be over 50 and by fall, over 60,” says Terry Montesi, founding partner of Trademark, the project’s developer. “To have eight new tenants open in the next four to five months, and have another 14 or 15 in negotiations is extraordinary activity, given the retail climate.”

The first two phases of Watters Creek is now constructed and still undergoing lease-up. A third phase is waiting in the wings as soon as market conditions allow. Montesi tells GlobeSt.com that additional land to the south is platted for additional retail, hotel, office and residential development. “We’ve had several interested hotels in this space,” he adds. “Hotel financing is on hold right now, but when the market is ready, I think this will be one of the first hotel deals to be done,” Montesi says.

He says there are several reasons why leasing in Allen in general and at the LEED-certified Watters Creek, more specifically, has been so active. For one thing, the North Central Expressway Corridor, which leads through the north Dallas suburbs, has been underserved from a retail perspective.

“Several developers discovered that at the same time a few years ago,” Montesi explains. The two projects that managed to break through and begin development were the Village at Allen and Village at Fairview, under MGHerring’s wing, and Watters Creek.

For Watters Creek, being a part of the master-planed Montgomery Farm master planned community hasn’t hurt. “This has phenomenal demographics and good spacing from other retail opportunities,” Montesi points out. “Plus ours is a dense, vertical multi-use development that has residential, office and retail, and a lot of outdoor space.”

Furthermore Texas remains a still-attractive place in which to operate, despite the slowing economy. “Many retailers aren’t doing much in the country, but Texas is one of the parts of the country they like. Plus we have stronger regional and local operators and restaurants,” Montesi says.

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