Thursday, August 07, 2008

Seib Debuts $150M-Plus Plan for North Oak Cliff


Admitting it's still a "moving target," well-known local banker Dick Seib has his eye on developing a $150-million to $200-million town center in North Oak Cliff. Site work is about to ramp up for the first construction, with the 30-acre tract to be completely scraped in early 2009.
About two years ago, Seib and his family bought three contiguous blocks, including a 6.4-acre parking lot at the city's fabled Bronco Bowl, now gone and backfilled with a Home Depot. The land assembly includes a 68-year-old apartment complex, Colorado Place at 2300 Fort Worth Ave., which is gradually being emptied to make way for the new, La Reunion Town Center.

Seib tells GlobeSt.com that construction financing is in place for the entire project. Ground will break on the parking lot site in 60 days for a 198-unit seniors' housing project, the Fairways at La Reunion, with completion coming five months later. Next, the demo crew will begin to raze the 28-building complex with 342 units.

If all goes as planned, Seib says La Reunion Town Center will be under construction by midyear. Construction is expected to take 14 to 16 months to complete. The first phase will have 300 rental units above 80,000 sf of retail. Subsequent phases will add 220 rental units, 70,000 sf of retail, a 30,000-sf theater and 96 townhouses. Seib has mapped out a five-year build-out plan.

"Our objective is to build a town center that is really a town center, the stereotypical live, work, play environment," Seib says, "that certainly is compatible and desirable for residents and ends up being a place for the community to see and be seen." His vision is La Reunion Town Center will be the beginning point on its side of the Trinity River for the hike-and-bike Katy Trail. Seib's project is part of the fuel for massive redevelopment of Oak Cliff.

NCA Architecture Inc. of Dallas designed La Reunion Town Center for Seib, whose infill development has a hilltop vantage point with views of Downtown Dallas and is three miles west of the inner urban core. A piece of the site abuts Stevens Park Golf Course. The residential component will be one- and two-bedroom apartments and townhouses. Galaxy Builders Ltd. of San Antonio is the general contractor. Jimmy Pham and Kent Arnold, both associates with Dallas-based Henry S. Miller Commercial Co., are preleasing the retail space, focusing on service-oriented businesses. The quoted rate is $27 per sf to $35 per sf, triple net on an annual basis.

"We have a few LOIs," Pham says. "We've been able to drum up a lot of interest of late." La Reunion Town Center's first ICSC showing will be October at the Southwest conference in San Antonio.

Seib says the original intent was to act as the project's equity partner. "In this case, we ended up in the role of developer because that's how it meandered," he confides. With financing locked in at a fixed rate, he says it's time to get started, but he's not ruling out a joint venture partner down the road.

The long-time resident of nearby Kessler Park and seniors' housing developer says it was by chance not design that he's now going to build in his backyard. "It wasn't necessarily protectionism, but it was recognition that perhaps we weren't seeing the forest for the trees," he says. "It has become a rapidly escalating area in prices and demand. This is a catalyst property that will really dictate the quality for the Fort Worth Avenue corridor."