Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Texas A&M to sell 163 acres of Richardson farmland to Centurion Development

Texas A&M site copy

The Texas A&M University System is selling its biggest tract of farmland in Dallas-Fort Worth, which could bring hundreds of homes to northern Dallas County.

Though the deal isn't scheduled to close until Sept. 1, the university system is under contract to sell 163 acres of farmland north of Campbell Road on Coit Road in Richardson that is adjacent to the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center to Dallas-based Centurion American Development.

Centurion is one of the largest home developers in Texas. It also has plans to spend $175 million redeveloping the Statler Hilton into an apartment community in downtown Dallas, and is building high-end custom homes at the Stoneleigh in Uptown.

"Last spring, we explored opportunities for the property, which we've owned since the mid-1970s, and we went through a very competitive process to sell this land," Texas A&M System Chief Business Officer Phillip Ray told the Dallas Business Journal."We worked through several proposals this summer and we are under contract with a potential development partner. We hope to close in the next 30 days."

The sale of the acreage would help Texas A&M AgriLife kick off plans for a new state-of-the-art research center on the school's remaining 80 acres of land in northern Dallas County. The details of the massive university project are still being developed, Ray told me.

Centurion Development's proposed plan for the larger tract of land includes 720 single-family homes and 180 townhomes, according to the city's planning and zoning department. If the deal falls apart, Texas A&M System has five other back-up buyers for the property, Ray told me.

"The deal is still fluid and if it falls apart, we plan to negotiate with the next line of proposals," he told me.

Centurion Development was the top-ranked proposal and unanimous choice of Texas A&M System officials working the deal, which wanted to find funding for the soon-to-be conceived Texas A&M AgriLife research center.

"Our No. 1 mission was to help AgriLife research the urban environment, and No. 2 was to upgrade the facility," Ray told me. "This deal gave us a way to accomplish both goals."

Ray declined to share the financial details of the deal until it closes next month. The funds are earmarked for Texas A&M's AgriLife program, which plans to spend a portion of the proceeds of the land sale to fund the new research center.

In 2011, there was chatter the site would be used for an Urban Living Laboratory, which would bring in partners from throughout the corporate world to sponsor urban living research for Texas A&M university. That plan would have cost $128 million.