Thursday, July 21, 2005

Downtown Dallas & Uptown Real Estate News

Downtown Dallas & Uptown Real Estate News

Hillwood, Belo Stamp Landmark 10-Year Lease in Victory Plaza

DALLAS ( -Planning to take its message live to the crowds, Hillwood and Belo Corp. have preleased 5,000 sf of street-level retail space to set up a broadcast station on a prime corner of Victory Plaza. The dirt work for the 100,000-sf, mixed-use building is just getting under way.

"Part of what they produce will be simulcast throughout Victory," says Jonas Woods, president of Hillwood Capital. He tells that the landmark lease has a 10-year term and a pair of five-year options to back a plan that is hoped will catapult the $600-million-plus Victory development into the ranks of Times Square and Rockefeller Center.

Belo's ABC affiliate, WFAA-TV, will broadcast live, beginning in mid-2006, from Victory Plaza East Tower, a twin-building development with 200,000 sf of office and retail space. The 75,000 sf of retail space has reached 90% preleasing with the Belo pact and the office floors are 40% taken, according to Woods.

Woods says Hillwood and its partners first approached the media conglomerate on the list of possible tenants because it's Dallas based plus it has connections as an ABC affiliate and a "strong" presence in local market. "Because of that, they were the first choice," he says, adding talks began just a few months ago.

"The most important aspect is what it does for Victory Park as a neighborhood," Woods says. "It will generate interest between the celebrities inside those spaces to the crowds gathering outside these locations."

Woods says construction crews are just now "mobilizing" on the Victory Plaza East's tract at the northwest corner of Houston and Wichita streets. The building will go up across the street from the W Dallas Victory Hotel & Residences, which topped out last Thursday.

In keeping with Hillwood's media plan for the development, Belo will equip the station with the most sophisticated high-definition video technology that's available. The studio space will be a second location in Dallas for Channel 8. Other Belo media lined up to share the space are reporters from the Dallas Morning News, al dia, Quick and other outlets with a team on assignment.

"For more than 50 years, WFAA has been directly connected to downtown Dallas, which is why this new studio is absolutely a natural," Kathy Clements, the station's president and general manager, says in a press release. "WFAA is the first station in our region to build anything on this scale." The upcoming broadcast format is being likened to ABC's "Good Morning America," aired live each day from New York City. Plus, it's taking a cue from stations in Chicago and Raleigh-Durham that have recently built studios in their downtowns.

Orne + Associates Inc. of Los Angeles designed the twin-tower project, which is being raised by the partnership of Hillwood, a Ross Perot Jr. company, and Hicks Holding Co., owned by Tom Hicks.