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Left Bank developer says he's close to incentive agreement with city

By Scott Nishimura
snishimura@bizpress.net

The developer of the planned 35-acre mixed-used Left Bank development fronting West Seventh Street and the Trinity River says he has development agreements for about 600 multifamily units and a “four-star” hotel overlooking the levee, and a commitment from a grocer for an urban format.

West Miller, principal with Centergy Retail, the Dallas developer of Left Bank, said in an interview Thursday night he’s waiting for an economic development agreement with the city of Fort Worth that would reimburse Centergy $20-$25 million in public infrastructure costs over as many as 20 years before he's able to sign off on agreements.

“We have about 60 percent of our project ready to go, now,” Miller said in an interview, after presenting plans to a gathering of the Cultural District Alliance Thursday night at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

Left Bank, which sits between Montgomery Plaza and the riverfront and would be the first major development to engage with the planned Panther Island urban renewal project north of downtown, is the last significant piece of vacant real estate in the burgeoning West Seventh corridor. Miller says the development at build-out could add $300 million to the tax rolls.

He declined to identify the multifamily and hotel developers, pending the city agreement. Centergy will develop the 100,000-square-foot retail piece of the development fronting West Seventh.

Centergy has a letter of intent from a national grocery chain that has an urban format to build a 50,000-square-foot grocery store anchor, Miller said. He declined to identify the grocer.

Miller, a veteran developer instrumental in developing the Knox Street retail district in Dallas, has been talking to the Trinity River Visiion Authority for more than a year about Left Bank plan.

Earlier this year, he stepped up talks with the city after identifying the $20-$25 million in infrastructure costs that include moving major water lines, storm water improvements, filling in the site and raising its level by about three feet, and rearranging the street grid.

Miller said the incentive agreement would be a Chapter 380 grant by the city, allowed under state law. He said he won't ask the Trinity River Vision tax increment finance district for incentives.

“We’re very, very close to an agreement with the city,” he said in the interview Thursday night. “And we’re hoping to take this to the City Council in the next few weeks.”

It’s critical that infrastructure work get going soon, Miller said, because he’d need to shut off a major line and move it during the low-demand winter season in order to be able to begin the next stage of work.

If Centergy secures its incentive agreement within the next few weeks, Miller said he expected to see building construction begin in the first quarter next year.

It would take the multifamily construction about 18 months, hotel about a year, and retail about six months, Miller said.

Miller showed pictures of some of the hotel developer’s properties during his presentation, but said afterwards he wouldn’t identify the developer because “I don’t want to get in front of ourselves.”

The 150-room hotel would likely be built on a parking garage “pedestal” to bring the first floor of the hospitality space level with the levee. First-floor amenities could include an infinity pool and restaurant with bar and outdoor space, as well as direct walking and bike access to the levee and river.

Miller said the Trinity River Vision Authority has agreed to let Centergy build to the levee, called “overbuilding the levee."

Centergy’s overall plan calls for about 1.5 million square feet of construction, including 1,500-1,700 residential units, and 100,000 square feet of retail space. The plan originally called for more retail, but Centergy scaled that back. The TRVA asked for more residential density. Additionally, Centergy didn't reach agreements with Neiman Marcus and Whole Foods, two major anchor targets, Miller confirmed earlier this year.

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