Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Huge North Dallas redevelopment project may face foreclosure

One of the most ambitious redevelopment projects on the drawing boards for North Dallas is facing foreclosure.

Lenders have scheduled a forced sale for early next month on 42 acres at the northwest corner of North Central Expressway and Walnut Hill Lane owned by developer Provident Realty Advisors.

Development site
The recently cleared hillside property was to be the site of an urban village of housing, retail and office space.

But work on the huge project – originally estimated to cost between $300 million and $400 million – stalled early this year when the credit crunch cut off funds for most real estate development.

Now lender Wachovia Bank wants to sell the land to recoup debt of more than $40 million, according to foreclosure filings obtained by Foreclosure Listing Service, an Addison-based reporting firm.

The sprawling tract north of NorthPark Center shopping mall was previously the site of the aging Lakeside apartment complex.

Provident Realty bought the complex and tore it down after a long zoning battle to replace the fire-prone buildings with a new mixed-use development.

Provident Realty got permission to build about 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.

The site is a few blocks from a commuter rail station and is on one of the region's busiest thoroughfares.

In February, Provident Realty officials said the project was on hold while it attempted to secure financing.

Provident officers did not return phone calls Tuesday about the possible foreclosure.

The posting is one of the largest pending land foreclosures in years. "No, I can't think of a bigger one in recent times," said George Roddy, president of Foreclosure Listing Service.

Not all foreclosure filings result in a sale of the property. Many times the borrower and lender renegotiate the debt or agree to delay the foreclosures.

Neighborhood groups that have negotiated for years with builders to get the property rezoned were stunned to hear that the land could be taken over by lenders.

"I'm shocked," said David Westbrook, president of the Meadows Neighborhood Association. "Actually, I shouldn't be surprised in today's economic environment.

"We thought they would put it on hold to wait for the economy to recover."

Westbrook said homeowners in the area fought hard to keep the property from being used for large discount retailers or high-rise buildings.

"It's going to be even more important now that we got that zoning in place," he said. "We want to get some high-quality retail in there – nothing big-box."
Steve Brown/DMN