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July 15 , 2005

Mega Retail Center Seeks to Stand Out by Fitting In

July 15, 2005 - Tricia Lynn Silva "We are going to create a niche in the marketplace." That is how Jim Gdula describes a new retail center that is being taken on by his firm: Aventura, Fla.-based Turnberry Associates. Known as Regal Hills, this 1 million-square-foot power center will be located at the southeast corner of Interstate Highway 10 and Loop 1604 in Northwest San Antonio. Regal Hills is the latest large-scale development targeted for the Loop 1604/I-10 intersection. Turnberry's plans call for creating a power retail center that incorporates a mix of national and regional tenants. The project will also include a lifestyle component -- featuring cafes, indoor and outdoor dining, bookstores and entertainment venues. Construction is slated to begin later this year; with the center scheduled to come on-line in the spring of 2007. The shopping center will be located near two of the city's most talked-about retail centers: The Shops at La Cantera and The Rim. The Shops at La Cantera is a 1.3 million-square-foot center that will be located at the northwest quadrant of Loop 1604 and I-10 -- cater-cornered to Regal Hills. The Rim is a 1.5 million-square-foot lifestyle center that will be located at the northeast corner of the Loop 1604/I-10 intersection -- just on the other side of Loop 1604 from Turnberry's new center. Both The Shops and The Rim will be bringing something very unique to the local retail landscape, says Gdula, who is the director of development for Turnberry. With its mix of high-end retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Tiffany & Co. and Nordstrom, The Shops will be a premier fashion center. Meanwhile, The Rim, which was able to hook a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, is poised to become a new destination venue for residents and tourists, adds Gdula. But Turnberry's project will be different from both of them. "We are going to bring the nuts and bolts of the shopping experience. We are going to bring retailers that San Antonians can identify with," says Gdula, who adds that the list could include a mix of both established and new names for the market. Name game Gdula declined to divulge potential tenants at this time. However, retail projects that Turnberry has taken on over the years have attracted tenants like Costco and TJ Maxx, and department stores like Macy's, Bloomingdale's and Belk. "They've done some high-profile projects," says Patrice Duker, who is the manager of media relations for the New York-based retail organization the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). "They are a pretty powerful developer." Turnberry, Duker continues, is known for creating a sense of place with its projects -- combining shopping with other uses, including offices and hotels. "They incorporate the whole village concept, where you have lots of things going on at the same time," Duker adds. Indeed, Turnberry, which is developing Regal Hills through a partnership with CABI Developers and Galleria Ventures, has already begun to look at other uses that would complement the power center. At issue is a 300-acre tract of land that lies adjacent to the Regal Hills property. The land is owned by Galleria Ventures, which sold Turnberry and CABI the initial 100-acre site for Regal Hills. "They could do a residential development, offices or condominiums. They could do a lot of things," says Sherman Hinkebein, who is the executive vice president of the local office of Dallas-based The Retail Connection, which is the exclusive broker for Regal Hills. "Could we do a residential development? It is certainly not out of our purview," adds Gdula, whose company is the name behind several high-end high-rise residential projects, including The Residences at MGM Grand Las Vegas. Big players But in an industry where timing is everything, is Turnberry at a disadvantage? By the time Regal Hills is open for business in 2007, both The Rim and The Shops will already be doing business. "There will already be momentum in the other centers. Turnberry is still trying to get their project going," says Kim Gatley, who is the director of research for locally based REOC Partners Ltd. "Does that mean it can't be done? Certainly not." And being the late-comer is not always a bad thing, note Gatley and Duker. "They've watched the other developers, and they can get perspective -- see what else is getting built, and who the players are," Duker says. "And they can figure out how to make their center different." Adds Gatley: "(Turnberry) can step back and ask, 'What else do we need?' " And there is still much more retail that San Antonio can support, industry observers add. "Developers wouldn't be doing these projects if retailers did not want to be there," Gdula says. "San Antonio is the 8th largest city (in the nation), and that's where we want our projects to be -- in the growing markets."
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