City Councilman Bill Blaydes remains optimistic about the Lake Highlands Town Center’s future despite withdrawal of the project’s real estate developer.

Blaydes says about 15 development companies have contacted him about taking over the project, which calls for a new DART light rail station surrounded by shops, offices, urban housing and a park.

“All of them have sought the materials. One is attempting to make an offer at this point; hopefully others will, too,” Blaydes said Jan. 13. “I am encouraged with the number of calls and the number of developers who have shown interest since Trademark decided to bomb us.”

“We are not dead.”

A week earlier, Blaydes announced that Trademark Acquisitions and Development of Fort Worth had decided to drop its contact on three apartment complexes at Skillman and Kingsley. The complexes – Sutter Wood, Ashton Springs and Ashton Point – would be demolished to make room for the center.

Trademark cited numerous reasons for abandoning the project, Blaydes says, but land cost for the residential area was the main concern.

Mortgage loan company Fannie Mae agreed to wait three weeks before putting the apartment complex properties on the open market so Blaydes could recruit another developer, he says.

“They have to come to realize the importance this has for the community,” Blaydes says. “They have bent over backwards to help.”

Blaydes originally expected to complete the project in spring 2007. Bringing on a new developer would create several months’ delay.

“Months are better than years or never,” he says.

Susan Morgan, economic chairwoman for the Lake Highlands Area Improvement Association, says area residents realize that large real estate deals take time and sometimes hit snags. Morgan says she expects the project to get back on track.

“I’m not really concerned. We’re patient, and we’ll wait,” she says. “I think it would be a great asset to the neighborhood and the city of Dallas.”

Other entities – the city Park and Recreation Department, DART and the North Texas Council of Governments – remain committed to the project, Blaydes says.

“Everybody is still positive about what it can mean to not only Lake Highlands but to the city as a whole,” he says. “I think we have a lot of support for it.”