Construction begins on large mixed-use complex in Richardson, Texas

Mar. 11--Developers are kicking off construction on what will be one of the most ambitious redevelopments yet in Richardson.

The Brick Row residential and commercial project will build an entire neighborhood of apartments, shops and townhouses adjacent to an existing light-rail station.

Construction starts in less than a month on the $140 million project at Greenville Avenue and Spring Valley Road on Richardson's old east side.

About 30 acres of old apartments and more than a dozen single-family homes that occupied the site have been cleared away for the development.

"We bought this property years ago as an apartment renovation project," said Richard Barge, president of Dallas-based Winston Capital Corp.

"Once we realized that DART was putting a rail station adjacent to the property, we got involved with the city of Richardson to plan a transit-oriented development," he said.

What Winston Capital and Richardson city planners came up with is an urban-style complex with 500 apartments, 80,000 square feet of shopping and restaurant space, 140 townhomes, up to 300 condominiums and 11,000 square feet of office space.

The development will surround Richardson's historic McKamy Springs Park, which will also get a makeover.

Winston Capital is building the development in partnership with the Michigan State Public Employees Retirement System, which is represented by Dallas-based L&B Realty Advisors.

The project is also getting $1.3 million from the North Central Texas Council of Governments and more than $9 million from a tax increment finance district set up by the city of Richardson.

The first apartments and retail space will be ready by the summer of 2009, Mr. Barge said.

BGO Architects Inc. designed the buildings in the character of early 20th-century commercial buildings, with brick facades and red-brick paving on the streets and walkways.

"We tried to make it look like it evolved over time," Mr. Barge said. "It has a park and creek in a suburban setting, which is fairly unique."

Back in the 1600s, Caddo Indians camped around a natural spring near what is now the corner of Greenville and Spring Valley.

And 200 years later, stagecoaches, carrying passengers between North Texas communities, stopped nearby.

In the 1920s, Richardson's first mayor -- T. F. McKamy -- bought the property. Since then, the old watering hole has been called McKamy Springs.

Mr. McKamy bought the land about the time work was finished to pave the road to Greenville, which came to be called Red Brick Road.

Construction of that thoroughfare helped link Richardson to nearby Dallas and transform the railroad and farming community into a thriving town.

A year after the Red Brick Road opened in 1925, Richardson's population had topped 400.

Winston Capital took the name for the project -- which was originally to be called Centennial Park -- from the old street paving.

Along Greenville Avenue just north of Spring Valley, the project includes lots for 140 townhomes that will be built by Houston-based David Weekley Homes.

The mixed-use nature of the project and its one-of-a-kind location helped attract the Michigan institutional investor as a partner.

"We are particularly drawn to projects like Brick Row that we think will stand the test of time," said L&B Realty Advisors partner and chief investment officer Dan Plumlee.

"It has proximity to transportation, employment and natural amenities like the park and creek."

While institutional investors such as the Michigan pension fund often buy completed income-producing properties like apartments and shopping centers, they are increasingly involved in developments like the one in Richardson.

"In the last three or four years, we have invested in quite a number of development deals," said L&B Realty's David Gleeson. "With our Michigan client, we've been the partner for four shopping center developments."

Brick Row is the third large mixed-use development going up near one of the city's light-rail stations.

Just north of the Arapaho Road station, developers are building a large apartment and retail complex called Eastside.

And near the Galatyn Park rail stop, construction is under way on more apartments and shops, which will join a large complex of office, hotel and public buildings.

"Brick Row is definitely giving us the critical mass we are looking for," said Bill Sproull, president of the Richardson Chamber of Commerce. "It has a lot of elements that we think will make it successful.

"And the developers have good partners and financial backing."

More important, Mr. Sproull said, the Brick Row complex should spur additional redevelopment between Greenville and North Central Expressway.

"We are optimistic that Koll Development will do some creative things with the old Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas complex."

Koll Development is building Blue Cross a $265 million office complex farther north, and it plans to redevelop the old building at Spring Valley and North Central.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Dallas Morning News Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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