Project pipeline: Trademark moving forward with four area developments
February 21, 2014
Terry Montesi stands in land set aside for a development near the west side. Photo by Kenneth Perkins.
Trademark Property Co. has been busy lately.
The Fort Worth real estate development company has its hands in several North Texas projects. It’s about to restart WestBend, a mixed-use project on the Trinity River near South University Drive that it put on hold during the recession. It’s leading a joint venture that plans to buy and redevelop the bulk of the scenic riverfront Lockheed Martin Recreation Association (LMRA) site on the West Side into cafes, stores, office, hotel and apartments.
In the Alliance corridor, where it’s in partnership with Hillwood on Alliance Town Center, Trademark has just signed more than 100,000 square feet of new retail tenants. And in Allen, it has started construction on apartments in the next phase at its creekside Watters Creek development.
“We’re having fun again,” Terry Montesi, Trademark’s CEO, said in an interview. “We’re very busy. We’re close to our highest headcount even before the crash.”
The company, whose offices are in the River Plaza office tower in the middle of the WestBend development, has more than 80 employees today, Montesi said.
Trademark has a 20-year history of retail and mixed-use projects, including the University Park Village in Fort Worth. It’s also leading the repositioning of the retail piece of the Victory Park development in Dallas.
Boosting its momentum, Trademark recently reached agreement on up to $18.5 million in incentives from the city of Fort Worth for its Lockheed Martin site redevelopment. The City Council will vote on the incentives March 4.
At WestBend, a Trademark-led joint venture expects to start construction within 60 days on close to 100,000 square feet of retail and office space in four buildings, including two to be built, Montesi said. The project, centered around the existing River Plaza office tower, is expected to open in spring 2015.
The project will be largely oriented toward the river, with closely located shops, cafes and workspaces contributing to what Montesi called a “walkable shopping experience.”
The success of chef Tim Love’s Woodshed restaurant nearby on the river has helped spur business interest in the Trinity, Montesi said. Restaurants, such as the recently verified location of the Dallas pizza chain Grimaldi’s, will have indoor and outdoor spaces.
“You can ride up on your bike and order a pizza and a Coke, or a pizza and a beer,” Montesi said. “We’re very excited about that.”
The partners will build a four-story building fronting the river on the west side of the River Plaza. It will include a 25,000-square-foot ground-floor anchor and three floors of office space.
The developers expect to announce the anchor tenant soon, Montesi said. Industry speculation abounds that it will be a grocery store.
The developers will remake the River Plaza building with ground-floor cafes and shops wrapping around the base. The adjacent parking garage – under construction and halted when the recession hit, then completed two years ago – also will have ground-floor retail.
Finally, the partners will build a 6,000-square-foot retail building in the center of the property.
Montesi said he expects several restaurants to enter the development. It includes the already-open Silver Fox, Zoe’s Kitchen and Smashburger restaurants, for a total 275,000 square feet.
Lockheed Martin Recreation
Another Trademark-led joint venture is moving closer to launching the planned makeover of much of the LMRA grounds on Bryant Irvin Road and the Trinity.
The Fort Worth City Council on Feb. 4 rezoned more than 60 acres of the site. Trademark expects to be “moving to close in May or June” on its purchase of the acreage, Montesi said.
After closing, the partnership will begin preparing the site for extensive installation of utilities and other infrastructure, including roads and at least one bridge over a small Trinity channel, Montesi said. The city will own the infrastructure.
Trademark expects to start work at the same time on planned retail space and 370 apartments; Trademark expects to name a multifamily partner in a few weeks, Montesi said. The partners may also begin work “immediately” on planned office space, he said. The first phase of the development, dubbed Waterside, should open around mid-2015, and build-out of the entire project is expected within six to seven years, Montesi said.
“This is not going to be a grocery-anchored shopping center and some apartments,” he promised. “This is going to be world-class.”
The partners envision a medium-density mix of shops, restaurants, apartments and townhomes, and offices. One planned cluster called The Grove includes cafes, a children’s play area, fountains, bocce courts, fire pits, and a yet-to-be-named grocery store centered around and under a grove of old trees the developers are saving, Montesi said. The partners would build structures for shade to augment what’s already provided by the trees, he said.
“It’ll be a highly active public space, around which there’ll be multifamily and office,” Montesi said.
The new Arborlawn Drive at Bryant Irvin will line up with the planned main entry to the development and will feed traffic from the Chisholm Trail Parkway, which is scheduled to open in May.
Waterside is one of a number of developments in southwest and West Fort Worth whose progress is being spurred by the impending opening of the Chisholm Trail. On the other side of Bryant Irvin and the river, a partnership led by Edwards Ranch Properties has stepped up development of its major mixed-use project, Clearfork.
The Lockheed recreation association will keep 12.5 acres at the northern end of the Waterside complex, north of the current gated entry to the property along Bryant Irvin.
The identity of the grocer, which Montesi said will occupy between 30,000 and 50,000 square feet, has been a topic of much speculation locally.
“We’re working on signing leases as we speak, but we can’t announce them,” Montesi said. “We’re making good progress.”
Trademark has also contacted Streams and Valleys Inc., the Fort Worth nonprofit that promotes the river, to discuss teaming with it and the Tarrant Regional Water District to extend the Trinity Trail on the north end of the property from Bellaire Drive to Bryant Irvin.
“It’s going to wind in between these big trees,” Montesi said, looking at an aerial view of the heavily wooded site.
Montesi said he also wants to work with the water district to build a linear park along the riverfront, with a small dog park and other amenities.
Randy Gideon, chairman of Streams and Valleys, said he’s looking forward to working with Montesi’s group.
“Our main concern is any development [on the river] address the river, which for many years it didn’t,” Gideon said. “I think Terry and his group are interested.”
An increasing number of developments on the Trinity have brought various stakeholders together, including Clearfork, the original effort that generated the Woodshed, and groups that are collaborating to take the trail east to Arlington from its current termination at Quanah Parker Park north of the Woodhaven neighborhood, Gideon noted.
In its proposal asking the city for financial incentives, Trademark committed to developing a minimum of 875,000 square feet of space at an estimated $185 million build-out, although Montesi said that could go higher.
The joint venture plans a total of 175,000-200,000 square feet of retail space, with “maybe a dozen” restaurants, Montesi told the Fort Worth Business Press.
“It’s depending on how many restaurants on the river,” he said.
He wants a restaurant mix of “a few nationals, and a lot of local, Austin, Dallas chefs.”
He plans 100,000-200,000 square feet of office space.
“Not a huge amount of office, but very special office,” Montesi said. “High rent, because we’ll be on a trail and a walk to the restaurants.”
The rezoning allows up to 800 apartments, and Montesi expects to also look at townhomes. The joint venture will be acquiring a multifamily development partner within the next few weeks, Montesi said.
He also expects to put in a hotel, most likely “boutique limited service.”
“We want a hotel on the site, we have a phenomenal site for a hotel, we already have a lot of hotel people interested, so we believe we’ll have a hotel at this site,” Montesi said.
Montesi said he’s formed a rapport with John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, whose book Conscious Capitalism argues that business driven by a higher purpose than making money leads to more prosperity for all stakeholders.
The Waterside partners are incorporating numerous elements of what they call “the conscious place” into their development, Montesi said.
Besides saving as many trees as possible and embracing the river, the partnership is also designing the children’s play area with a tree “that has to come down,” Montesi said.
They’re interested in a community garden and water refill stations on the river trail. Solar panels to light parking lots are a possibility, he said. A “community shed” will allow nonprofits such as the Girl Scouts to pitch their wares.
“We probably going to sell reusable bags at a loss,” he said. “If you’re a family that uses the place, we’re making your life better, we’re not just taking your money.”
Alliance Town Center
Alliance Town Center has signed new retail leases with several stores totaling 115,000 square feet, filling out the far North Fort Worth shopping center’s next phase.
The latest are Five Below, which bills itself as “the leading retailer of trend-right, extreme-value merchandise to the teen and preteen market,” Sheplers and Sleep Experts, Montesi said.
They join the previously confirmed DSW Shoe Warehouse and Haverty’s, which have also signed leases.
“That project has just continued to grow and grow and grow,” Montesi said. “And it’s poised to keep going.”
The stores, which Montesi says make up Town Center’s fourth phase, should open this fall.
In Allen, Trademark is working on the next phase of its Watters Creek mixed-use development, starting construction on more than 100 apartments with restaurant space and a children’s play area next to a public green.
Trademark is talking to retailers and other potential users for more available space in the 52-acre project on U.S. 75. The project features restaurants that have al fresco dining and water views, offices, residential lofts and interactive public art.
“Sales have been good, and that project is stable,” Montesi said.
Trademark is fortunate to be in Texas, he said.
“We are out of the deep recession,” he said. “Many other parts of the country are not out yet.”