Westlake development importing European aesthetic

A. Lee Graham lgraham@bizpress.net

The road to Westlake’s next major neighborhood passes through Europe in raising the bar for the town’s already upscale pedigree. The mixed-use development, Entrada, is a $350 million, mixed-use development promising more than 300 homes, 500,000 square feet of retail stores, offices surrounding a man-made lake, restaurants, medical offices and an amphitheater, all with a European aesthetic. “Westlake is very well suited for this,” said Mike Beaty,

president and chief operating officer of Blackard Global Inc., a McKinney-based real estate development firm. Beaty joined forces with company CEO Jeffory Blackard in planning the project. Entrada will displaying its European aesthetic through matching red shingle roofs topping its many buildings, the development will occupy 85 acres on the northeast corner of Solana and Davis boulevards just south of Texas 114 as it veers east to Southlake. But serving Southlake – or any other nearby community – is not the idea. “We’re not Southlake Town Square,” Beaty said, referring to that town’s open-air mixed-use development. “Entrada just serves the needs of people in a one-mile radius.” In designing the development, Blackard, Beaty and Carrollton developer Mehrdad Moayedi selected not only architectural characteristics, but also a location that would best serve the immediate area. Entrada will stand between Fort Worth Alliance and Dallas/Fort Worth International airports and next to the Solana Business Park, whose primary tenants are Wells Fargo, Supply Logix, Solera Holdings and Maguire Partners, which manages the business park. Maguire Partners-Solana Land LP owns the Entrada property. The project aims to bring Westlake more housing stock and offer nearby restaurant and retail options for the estimated 4,800 employees working in the business park.

“It’s a good place for taking this village concept,” said Beaty. Land within a one-mile radius of Westlake is only expected to have 833 homes by 2015, with only 13.6 percent vacancy, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That means more houses are needed in a town not known for rapid residential growth. With Westlake’s average household income of $168,506 and the average appraised home value at just over $1 million, according to 2010 Census data and town information, the developers consider Westlake ideal for Entrada’s mix of planned townhomes, condominiums, villas and single-family homes priced between $500,000 and $2 million. Westlake Mayor Laura Wheat was impressed with Blackard’s role in developing the Adriatica Village mixed-use development in McKinney, a similarly European-inspired project. She contacted Blackard in 2012 for a potentially similar concept for her town, Beaty said. Several Westlake Town Council and other public meetings followed, and now both sides are satisfied with a project they consider fair for taxpayers and exciting for potential homebuyers.

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Before approving a development plan and preliminary plat in November 2013, the council approved an economic development agreement in which the developers agreed to pay the town $10,000 per residential unit when they reach the final plat stage. Apartments in the original development plan were scrapped after public opposition from some residents. That dropped the original price tag from $500 million to $350 million Not only is home construction funding taken care of, but so is money to pay for infrastructure improvements. A public improvement district approved in February allows the town to assess taxes from property owners within the district to fund trails, parks, landscaping, water, wastewater and drainage system improvements, among other infrastructure needs. Developers plan to break ground in July, with some buildings planned to be under construction by November. The first homeowners should be able to move in by the end of 2015.

Serving as land planners on the project were Beaty and Blackard. Callison Architecture Inc. of Dallas was among architectural firms involved. The developers have hired no landscape architect yet, Beaty said. At least one Westlake official called Entrada great news for the town. “Entrada will bring a lot of uses not currently found in Westlake, allowing Westlake residents the opportunity to live, dine, shop, work and take leisure walks around a lake all within a common development,” said Eddie Edwards, the town’s planning and zoning director. Asked whether Westlake eventually could consider apartments, Edwards said, “No, not in the near future.”