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Old Posted Dec 19, 2009, 5:08 PM
targusblack targusblack is offline
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[Windcrest] - ‘Phoenix' to revive Windcrest center

http://www.mysanantonio.com/communit...st_center.html

Web Posted: 12/17/2009 12:00 CST
By Jeff B. Flinn - Editor/Northeast Herald

The city of Windcrest is expected to give its blessing to a $24.5 million project that will resurrect the Windcrest Park Shopping Center, with plans for a 20,000 square-foot educational facility, a five-story, 130-bed hotel, and 10,000 square-foot convention center.

The Windcrest Economic Development Corporation gave its unanimous approval to “Project Phoenix,” a revitalization project that is designed, at its pinnacle, to bring upwards of 150 jobs and as much as $718,000 new revenue to the city.

Leading the presentation on Project Phoenix during Monday's EDC meeting was Dick Vaughan, vice president of leasing development for Whitestone REIT, a Houston-based real estate investment trust with 35 retail, warehouse and office properties occupying approximately 3 million square feet. Vaughan and Dan Nixon, Whitestone's senior vice president of leasing, explained their plans for the nearly 200,000 square-foot site that fronts Interstate 35 north of Walzem Road.

“I think we've got something here that warrants your interest,” Vaughan told the EDC before launching into the project. The “Phoenix” in the project title, he said, refers to the revitalization — a “rising from the ashes” of past economic downturn — for the Windcrest Park Centre. More than 63,000 square feet of space currently sits vacant after former tenants National Furniture, Circuit City and Sports Authority moved out.

Whitestone's plan shows a five-story hotel being erected on the property's south end — a project that will close Crosswind Drive, reroute Fourwinds Drive directly in front of the existing center and create a four-way intersection at Fourwinds and Crestwind.

“This is not just hypothetical,” Vaughan said. “It's a lot more serious than just a feasibility study.” He said Whitestone has “a fully signed letter of intent” with the educational facility that plans to operate a 20,000 square-foot campus out of the northern end of the center, where National Furniture used to be located.

Talks have advanced concerning the hotel as well.

“We have had a lot of conversation with them; we understand he has corporate approval for (a hotel on) that site,” he said.

Vaughan detailed the funding Whitestone will need in order make Project Phoenix fly: $24.5 million, which includes: $1.2 million for the educational facility/university; $3.8 million for property improvements; $8 million to erect the hotel; $10 million for refinancing and debt payment; and a $1.5 million contingency fund.

“We hope to turn this thing into a real significant, vital aspect of your town,” Nixon added.

The project will depend on the sale of $24.5 million in lease-revenue bonds, leaving the city free of any financial obligations.

“This does not tie up or obligate any tax dollars ... it does not cost the city or its citizens anything,” Vaughan said.

Whitestone estimates the future value of the property to be $22.74 million, as compared to the current commercial valuation of $12.75 million. Tax revenue created by the property will increase 84 percent, while ad valorem taxation will jump an additional $43,910. The hotel itself, Vaughan said, can be expected to produce $330,000 per year for the city.

“Total new money, when totally leased out, will be $675,000. These are our best estimates ... and that jumps to $718,910 with the ad valorem, at build-out,” he said. “In today's climate, this is a big number for a company our size.”

Two readings of the resolution before city council are required before the project is approved.
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