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Diverse Denton

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Diverse Denton
From a 400-acre mixed-use project to the revitalized downtown square, people often told us Denton's more than just the ‘burbs. We believed them because Grammy-winning polka band Brave Combo and Peterbilt trucks call the city home. But eventually we had to see first hand what the development opportunities are, which we did with help from the city's economic development director Linda Ratliff.
 
Denton economic development director Linda Ratliff
Here's Linda at City Hall, where she told us Denton is no longer just a bedroom community. Located about 20 miles north of Fort Worth and Dallas on I-35, with about 120k  residents, the city's commercial growth is currently outperforming housing. About 11k acres of proposed residential developments were halted in various stages when the economy sank. Despite that, Aldi's 500k SF distribution center just opened and Fastenal opened a 200k SF warehouse last year. The municipal airport's runway expansion has started and the DCTA rail is driving growth downtown. “People are really excited about it coming and what can happen within walking distance of those stations,” Linda says.
The Martino Group's Hickory Street apartment development
Downtown's got a big pocket of development, Linda says, much of it spurred by the coming transit station (opening in June). Several restaurants—like Andaman Thai (channeling Where's Waldo, can you spot its sign in the pic?)—have relocated to the area right around downtown and several night spots are popping up, too. The city wants to increase the density of housing downtown next to the transit center with more retail and apartments to increase population and build a 24-hour  downtown, Linda says. The Martino Group is adding apartments all around the downtown area, including these on Hickory Street.
Sam's Club and Wal-Mart
On the north side of Denton along University Drive near I-35, we snapped Phase 1 of the 400-acre $850M Rayzor Ranch mixed-use development. It was announced in '06, then screeched to a halt, but may now be seeing some light. The 1M SF open-air town center featuring Dillard's, Belk, JC Penney, among others, was in a holding pattern with the original developer struggling. Phoenix-based Red Development  has since stepped in and plans to start construction later this year, Linda says. Some retail CRE brokers tell us (quietly) they don't think it will come to fruition for years, if ever. A 900k SF retail power center anchored by Wal-Mart and Sam's Club on the north side of University is slated to open this fall.
Unicorn Lake's Beth Marie's
Linda says the city's big project on the south side of I-35E, Unicorn Lake (unlike the elusive horned horse, this is easy to find), has had a Cinemark movie theater and Dogwood Estates seniors living for several years. Now, the office park has filled out with many medical projects. About 20k SF of retail (including Beth Marie's, where we have been found upon occasion with a Courthouse Pecan cone) was completed and another 45k SF MOB is going up.
The Retail Connection SVPs Mitch Traub and Wyatt Russo
The Retail Connection SVPs Mitch Traub and Wyatt Russo inked a deal for Buffalo Wild Wings to take over a vacant Hollywood Video store in Denton Crossing. Marketed by TRC, the 339k SF power center is more than 95% leased. The retailer chose Denton because of its large residential population, growing number of young professionals, and big student body at the University of North Texas and Texas Woman's University. The intersection of Loop 288 and Brinker Road is a large hub for several national retailers, grocers, and restaurants that draw crowds from all over Denton. Denton still has a lot of leakage (don't you love the eloquence of CRE vocabulary) with residents shopping at Stonebriar (in Frisco) or Vista Ridge (in Lewisville), but Unicorn Lake and Rayzor Ranch will help solve that problem, Linda says.
 
UNT associate athletic director Brian Bethea
TWU and the UNT (the fourth largest university in Texas) both drive the economy, too. HKS designed the new $78M football stadium being built now by Manhattan Construction (both did the new Cowboys Stadium, too). UNT associate AD Brian Bethea, above, says the 30k seat stadium will be ready for the 2011 season with more fan amenities (no more standing in line for the restroom, ladies), a club level, and additional suites. The Mean Green(environmentally green, by recycling the concrete and seeking LEED Gold) will host a number of public events in the stadium, too, Brian tells us.