New Residential Mixed-Use Development Planned for McKinney, Texas

Lifestyle village estimated to cost $800M, mixes homes and retail


"I think there is a great audience for this development," he says. "They're projecting that they'll sell out the homes in a two-year period. I think they'll go a lot quicker than that."

Foreign officials

Even before the first foundation is poured, foreign officials from a half-dozen countries, including Thailand and South Korea, have hit up the Coopers about bringing their healthful lifestyles concept to their countries.

During a recent visit here, Yousef Omair bin Yousef, chief executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Corp., toured Craig Ranch at the urging of Ross Perot Jr. The prince immediately invited the Cooper entourage to his country to explore the possibilities for a Cooper Life in Abu Dhabi, which has large number of people at risk for diabetes.

"We said yes," says the elder Dr. Cooper. "But we haven't pursued that yet. We have our hands full here."

So who decides where to go next?

"We'll do it jointly," Mr. Lowery says. "We have a mutual opportunities agreement."

In addition to Cooper Life, Wellstone has $1 billion in construction projects around the Southeast and Southwest and has been active in North Texas for 10 years.

Yet you'd be hard-pressed to find many people who've heard of the company.

Wellstone's lineage is tied to the Presbyterian Church of America. It's a spin-off of now publicly held Cornerstone Ministries Investment Co., which was started by the church 22 years ago to finance sanctuaries for early stage churches. Wellstone was started to build retirement complexes for church members.

Mr. Lowery and four partners own the company, which is based in suburban Atlanta.

About a third of its business is apartment complexes for active seniors who no longer want to own a home. Locally, it has complexes in Lewisville and Garland.

It also builds single-family starter homes in minority neighborhoods to stimulate economic activity.

Wellstone is developing Light Point Place, a neighborhood of 172 houses priced from $145,000 to $165,000 at Buckner Boulevard and Interstate 30.

"But our bread and butter," Mr. Lowery says, "is building 150- to 250-unit lifestyle communities for baby boomers and baby boomer-pluses who want to downsize their homes and get rid of the maintenance. These are not large Sun Cities. They are more intimate and campuslike."

Memberships

Mr. Lowery met the Coopers while building Wellstone at Craig Ranch, which will have 202 ranch-style condominium homes. Each house comes with a lifetime social membership to the golf club and a two-year prepaid family membership at the Cooper Aerobics Center.

Wellstone has other projects in Craig Ranch.

Earlier this month, it broke ground on Michael Jordan's 25,000-square-foot training and research center, where Olympic gold medalists will train high-performance athletes.

"And we're about to sign a deal with what will be a 110-room boutique hotel on the Cooper Life grounds primarily for Cooper patients," Mr. Lowery says over lunch in the West End.

David Craig, the 50-year-old mastermind behind the master-planned community, sees a kindred spirit in Mr. Lowery.

"You have to be very careful who you partner with to make sure that they share the same vision as yours. John has done everything he's promised and more."

With more than 800 homes to sell, Wellstone can no longer afford to be invisible.

It recently paid more than $1 million to be the title sponsor for the next few years of a White Rock Marathon-style race at Wellstone.

"We thought it was important to make a statement about our commitment to Dallas," says Mr. Lowery.

"Until now, we had no reason to be high-profile. But when you're connected at the hip with the father of aerobics and you're building the first-of-its-kind lifestyle community with an $800 million price tag, you have to position yourselves in the market."