Dallas Real Estate News: A Sam’s Club or West Village at Walnut Hill and Central Expressway?

Kidding. Sort of. The folks who live near those 42 vacant acres at Central and Walnut Hill are going to be tripping over ‘dozers and cement trucks now that a Missouri investor has snapped up the land and created a new chapter for Dallas real estate. But the question is, how much did he pay for it, and what’s he going to do with the real estate now that he has it?

Let’s go back to 2009, if we really must. Dallas real estate Developer Provident Realty Advisors cleared out the old apartments on this site — I recall at least two fires there. But there was also a lovely lake, where we took a pet duck after one of my zanier Easters and found out she was a female when all the male ducks tried to mate her. I thought they were killing here and intervened, it wasn’t pretty. But I digress. The 42 acres were going to be the site of yet another “West Village” at this very juicy intersection which is a few blocks from a commuter rail station and on one of the the busiest highways in the state. Let me define this version of West Village: 175,000 square feet of specialty restaurant and retail space, 1,100 apartment units, a small office building and a 104-home luxury residential village. I was told townhomes starting at $500K and high-end, boutique stores.

But then came the great credit crunch of 2008 and work on the $400 millionish project stalled. The land fell into foreclosure. Lender left holding the note, Wells Fargo, from Wachovia. Debt of $40 million.

Steve Brown says  the property has been acquired by a partnership set up by Kroenke Holdings of Columbia, Mo. Kroenke Holdings is a developer headed by billionaire sports team owner (Denver Nuggest, St. Louis Rams, Colorado Avalanche) E. Stanley Kroenke. Kroenke has holding companies owning and managing more than 20 million square feet of shopping centers in 17 states stretching from Colorado to New York, says Steve. And now Texas:

“THF Realty also has a long business relationship with retailing giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc . Kroenke is married to Wal-Mart heiress Ann Walton.”

A Wal-Mart mini-mart might be nice here. Guess who‚Äôs got top concern over what will happen to that property? The folks who live next door. Representatives from three area homeowner’s associations really kept on top of this development, some say maybe too much — they made it too hard for the developers to do anything. Their concerns:

As most of you know, the 42-acre property at the northwest corner of Walnut Hill and Central Expressway that was owned by Provident Realty Advisors was foreclosed on by Wells Fargo late last year. Because the Wells Fargo loan pre-dated the private deed restrictions (“PDR”) that The Meadows, Glen Lakes and Windsor Park had collectively negotiated with Provident, the PDR has been negated. However, the zoning that we negotiated remains in place (see www.themeadowsna.org for a copy of the approved zoning).  Because of continued support from our City Council representative and the expectation that any future owner will likely seek changes to the existing zoning, we believe we will have reasonable influence in what ultimately transpires on the site.  As a reminder, current zoning includes, among other things, a requirement that the western-most 385 feet (approximately 17 acres) be solely residential, with no more than 140 residences that must be townhomes (rather than condos, apartments, etc). Wells Fargo has recently opened up bidding for the site.

The Joint Task Force (made up of representatives from The Meadows, Glen Lakes and Windsor Park) will continue to work with potential developers on behalf of our respective neighborhoods. The JTF is currently taking the approach that, rather than express upfront what our neighborhoods want on the site, we will wait and see what the future owner/developer has in mind.

Stay tuned. I’ve got my sources out on this one. Might be second homes, townhomes, some sort of Wal-Mart clone, or a whole new ballgame.