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March 24 , 2005

Arlington gets green light on $100M development

March 24th, 2005 - David Giddens Arlington officials have given the go-ahead to a $100 million, 75-acre retail development expected to begin construction this fall just east of the The Parks at Arlington mall in the city's Interstate 20 corridor. Developers say the project, dubbed the Arlington Highlands, will host 900,000 square feet of retail space once completed, including theaters, at least two large anchors and a pedestrian-friendly greenbelt that in many respects emulates the feel of the much larger and highly successful Southlake Town Square. David Wilson, president of Connected Development Services, the development arm of Dallas-based Retail Connection, said the first phase of the project will total about 600,000 square feet and involve junior anchors in the 25,000-30,000-square-foot range. "We're working diligently with a number of junior anchors to create the power center part of the project, which will go along with the lifestyle element," Wilson said. Although he declined to discuss specific retailers, he said those potential tenants include pet and office supply firms and furniture stores -- so-called "category killers" that would draw smaller tenants to occupy the project's lifestyle element which includes walkways with trees, park-like areas and outdoor seating. Wilson said work in the project's second phase will start within six to nine months after commencement of construction on phase one, and negotiations are already under way with large, 100,000-square-foot users for that portion of the project. The property, which sits north of I-20 and east of Matlock Road, represents the last piece of land owned by the Curtis Mathes family in South Arlington. "We've been mowing that big old field for 60 years," said John Mathes of the Retail Connection, son of the former television manufacturer and the development partner with Connected Development. Mathes said his grandfather accumulated 2,000 acres in South Arlington beginning in the 1950s, including the land that was used to build the Parks Mall. The I-20 corridor at Cooper Street has turned into a retail powerhouse in the past decade, and Mathes said "there was some awareness of how the area would develop." Wilson said the heavy retail presence in the area will not be adversely affected by Arlington Highlands, which he said will, instead, be a benefit. "We think this project really moves the area to another level -- from a regional shopping area to a super regional shopping area," he said. "What we have is different than what's already on the ground. Most of our tenants will be new to the area, or at least new to South Arlington. It compliments the mall, and draws from a much larger trade area and will bring business to the players there now as well as the those in our project." Developer John Zikos of Venture Commercial, who has worked several large developments in Tarrant County, said Arlington Highlands will offer some retailers a chance to upgrade their locations. He also said the addition of 900,000 square feet in the area shouldn't be a problem since it's being built in phases. Zikos said it would have been even better if the project had lured the rumored expansion of Ikea, the Scandinavian furniture manufacturer that is building a store in Frisco. Ikea has said it will not discuss expansion plans beyond its 310,000-square-foot Frisco store that is scheduled to open this summer. "The I-20/Cooper Street area has been a good market, and tough to get into," he said.
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