Trademark discussing incentive agreement for LMRA site


Scott Nishimura

The planned makeover of much of the Lockheed Martin Recreation Association grounds in west Fort Worth into mixed-use development fronting Bryant Irvin Road and the Trinity River is moving closer to launch, its prospective developer said. Trademark Property Co. of Fort Worth, which is leading a joint venture that plans to buy and redevelop 63 acres of the LMRA site, is discussing an incentive agreement with the city, and City Council members are scheduled to be briefed on it Tuesday.

And with the council’s Feb. 4 rezoning of the site, the joint venture expects to be “moving to close in May or June” on its purchase, Terry Montesi, Trademark’s CEO, said in an interview. After closing, the partnership will begin preparing the site for extensive installation of utilities and other infrasructure, and expects to start work at the same time on planned retail and 370 apartments off the Trinity River, Montesi said. The partners may also begin work “immediately” on planned office space, he said. Opening of the first phase of the development, dubbed Waterside, should be around mid-2015, Montesi said. “This is not going be a grocery-anchored shopping center and some apartments,” Montesi promised. “This is going to be world-class.” The partners envision a medium-density mix of shops, restaurants, apartments and townhomes, and offices. One planned cluster includes cafes, a children’s play area, fountains, “bocce courts” fire pits, and a yet-to-be-named grocery store centered around and underneath a grove of old trees the developers are saving, Montesi said. The partners would build shade to augment what’s already provided by the trees, he said. “It’ll be a highly active public space, around which there’ll be multifamily and office,” Montesi said. The new Arborlawn Drive at Bryant Irvin will line up with the planned main entry to the development and feed traffic from the Chisholm Trail Parkway, scheduled to open in May and connecting southwest Tarrant County to downtown and beyond. Waterside is one of a number of developments in southwest and West Fort Worth whose progress is being spurred by the impending opening of the Chisholm Trail. On the other side of Bryant Irvin and the river, a partnership led by Edwards Ranch Properties has stepped up its major mixed-use Clearfork development. “It’s got regional access and it’s got great local community access,” Montesi said of his site. The recreation association will keep 12.5 acres at the northern end of the complex, all north of the current Bryant Irvin gated entry to the property. The identity of the grocer, which Montesi said will occupy between 30,000 and 50,000 square feet, has been a topic of much speculation locally.

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“We’re working on signing leases as we speak, but we can’t announce them,” Montesi said. “We’re making good progress.”

Trademark has also contacted Streams and Valleys, the Fort Worth nonprofit that promotes the river, to discuss teaming with it and the Tarrant Regional Water District to extend the Trinity Trail on the north end of the property from Bellaire Drive to Bryant Irvin.

“It’s going to wind in between these big trees,” Montesi said, looking at an aerial of the heavily treed site. “As soon as we signed the letter of intent with LMRA, we called Streams and Valleys and said we want to work with you.” Montesi said he also wants to build a linear park along the riverfront, with small dog park and other amenities. Randy Gideon, the chairman of Streams and Valleys, says he’s looking forward to working with Montesi’s group. For years, he noted, development in Fort Worth turned its back to the river. In recent years, encouraged by the success of Tim Love’s popular Woodshed smokehouse on the river near Colonial Country Club, developers are taking more advantage of the Trinity. “Our main concern is any development address the river, which for many years it didn’t,” Gideon said. “I think Terry and his group are interested.”

Several stakeholders would be involved in extending the trail from Bellaire to Bryant Irvin on the south side of the river, and possibly running it underneath Bryant Irvin to the meet the traill on the other side.

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Besides Montesi’s group, Streams and Valleys, water district, and the LMRA, the city would likely be involved, Gideon said. An increasing number of developments on the Trinity have brought various stakeholders together, including Clearfork, the original effort that generated the Woodshed, and groups that are collaborating to take the trail east to Arlington from its current termination and Quanah Parker Park north of Woodhaven, Gideon noted. Montesi’s group plans a total 175,000-200,000 square feet of retail, with “maybe a dozen” restaurants, Montesi said. “It’s depending on how many restaurants on the river,” he said. He wants a restaurant mix of “a few nationals, and a lot of local, Austin, Dallas chefs.” He plans 100,000-200,000 square feet of office space. “Not a huge amount of office, but very special office,” Montesi said. “High rent, because we’ll be on a trail and a walk to the restaurants.”

The rezoning allows up to 800 apartments, and Montesi expects to also look at townhomes. The joint venture will be signing on a multifamily development partner within the next few weeks, Montesi said.

He also expects to put in a hotel, most likely “boutique limited service.” “We want a hotel on the site, we have a phenomenal site for a hotel, we already have a lot of hotel people interested, so we believe we’ll have a hotel at this site,” Montesi said.

While he won’t say what grocers are interested, Montesi allows he’s formed a rapport with John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, whose book “Conscious Capitalism” argues that business driven by a higher purpose than making money leads to more prosperity for all stakeholders. The Waterside partners are incorporating numerous elements of what they call “the conscious place” into their development, Montesi said. Besides saving as many trees as possible and embracing the river, the partnership is also designing the childrens’ play area with a tree “that has to come down,” Montesi said. They’re interested in a community garden and water refill stations on the river trail. Solar panels to light parking lots is a possibility, he said. A “community shed” will offer nonprofits will allow nonprofits like the Girl Scouts to pitch their wares. “We probably going to sell reusable bags at a loss,” he said. “If you’re a family that uses the place, we’re making your life better, we’re not just taking your money.”