The wheels are once again moving on an extensive multimillion-dollar mixed-use real estate development just north of Fort Worth following the acquisition of the bankrupted play by a New England development company on July 27.
Wheelock Street Capital, based in Connecticut and Massachusetts, bought the 1,240-acre Canyon Falls development in far southern Denton County from a partnership partially backed by Dallas-based Highland Capital Management. Canyon Fallsâ€™ original partnership filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection two years ago, stalling the original plans for a sprawling residential and commercial development that by some estimates could have been valued upward of $1 billion upon full build-out.
Plans call for more than 1,700 homes and several pockets of commercial and retail offerings, with full amenities, scattered throughout Canyon Fallsâ€™ multicity footprint. About 40 percent of the site will be left untouched for walking trails and other outdoor pursuits. The master plan also includes a 100-acre plot for a proposed elementary school in the Argyle â€¨Independent School District.
Executives with Wheelock said on Aug. 1 that the company intends to move forward with that original development plan spanning parts of Flower Mound, Northlake and Argyle. The site itself sits near the intersection of Interstate 35W and Farm Road 1171. Much of the land remains undeveloped, save for a few minor utility and road improvements that local officials added in the developmentâ€™s pre-bankruptcy years.
The acquisition marks Wheelockâ€™s first development in Dallas-Fort Worth, though it also owns similar developments in Houston, San Antonio and Austin.
Mike Rafferty, director of Wheelockâ€™s Texas operations, said that his firm has long sought entry into the North Texas housing market, and that Canyon Falls opened a favorable opportunity to land in the area. He declined to say how much the company paid for the parcel, but said it was a â€œfair price.â€
â€œWe like Texas a lot,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™ve always liked Dallas as well. We think this particular community has tremendous amounts of potential not only for the surrounding areas but as a development community as well.â€
Crews are scheduled to resume work on the main road leading into the development site within two months. Rafferty expects the first houses to begin dotting the landscape by the fourth quarter of 2013. Home prices could start at around $200,000 and go up to $750,000 and above.
Wheelock doesnâ€™t anticipate a full build-out for at least seven years. He demurred when asked to put a number on its potential end value, but said the billion-dollar figure others have used is â€œwithin the realm of possibilities.â€Â Â
Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden expressed enthusiasm for the projectâ€™s return to the front burner. He said the recent news of the purchase aligns well with city officialsâ€™ plans to boost housing in the suburb.
â€œOne of the things weâ€™ve heard repeatedly is we need more rooftops,â€ he said. â€œThis will certainly help us do that. Itâ€™s an exciting â€¨project.â€
Canyon Falls is poised to become one of the three largest developments in the city, the mayor said. Flower Mound is currently about 60 percent developed.
Rafferty said Wheelock is looking at other potential deals in North Texas, but said all were too preliminary to discuss. He went on to say, however, that if another deal like Canyon Falls came along, his company â€œwould be extremely interested in it.â€Â
Highland Capital Real Estate Advisors and McGinnis Real Estate, both of Dallas, originally purchased the unzoned land in 2006. Other partners and investors joined before the development filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court during the summer of 2010.Â
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