An aerial view of the Lake Highlands Town Center property: cypress-advisors.com

An aerial view of the Lake Highlands Town Center property: cypress-advisors.com

There’s a new sheriff in town — of the Lake Highlands Town Center, that is.

Austin-based Cypress Real Estate Advisors, which has long been the majority equity holder in the 70-acre project, “owns all of the Town Center at this point,” says Cypress vice-president Elizabeth Good. The Town Center’s former developer, Prescott Realty Group, has been developing apartment and retail building Haven Lake Highlands with Cypress, Good says, but adds that Cypress eventually will own the Haven, too, and it’s Cypress who is working with United Commercial Realty to lease the 7,500 square feet of retail on the first floor of the four-story building. Cypress signs went up on the property at Walnut Hill and Skillman a few weeks ago, replacing Prescott’s signage.

Good says there still are no confirmed retail tenants or even lease agreements anywhere in the Town Center. Cypress is talking to “a couple tenants and grocers and all that, but we can’t really report anything.” She notes, however, that Cypress expects one to three tenants at the base of the Haven, and is confident at least one will be a restaurant.

“We could have a restaurant group that says, hey, we want the whole thing and a patio, too,” Good says. “Lots of restaurants have expressed interest in coming to Lake Highlands because the demand is there.”

As far as the rest of the Town Center, “we’re starting totally fresh,” Good says. Cypress plans to submit a new site plan to the Dallas City DesignStudio, and Good says Cypress will wait for the city to sign off “so we know we’re going in the right direction. … We want to try to reap the benefits of the TIF that’s in place there if we can.” (The TIF agreement for the Town Center land allows for up to $40 million in reimbursements based on an increase in property values/taxes due to improvements. Of that money, the City already has given Prescott/Cypress $1.37 million in TIF funds.)

Lake Highlands Town Center site plan Prescott

Former site plan for the Lake Highlands Town Center: Prescott Realty Group

Good says that the new site plan is “a hybrid between the original plan of super high density retail blocks with structured parking, and something not quite as dense that combines density and walkability.” Right now, Cypress is focusing on the eight acres of retail on the southeast corner of Walnut Hill and Skillman, bordered on the south and east by Sedgwick and Wildcat Way. It’s the section that, since Prescott became the seventh Town Center developer in 2007 (for anyone who’s counting, Cypress is the eighth), was intended to house the grocery store that would be the retail anchor for the property.

Prescott’s original plan was to woo an independent or “boutique” grocer to the Town Center, and when we asked Good whether that’s still the plan, she told us, “We’re looking at really all of our options. Unfortunately, in this [economic] environment, a lot of the grocers have merged together. There’s some new-to-Texas grocers coming into the market, and some that have been around for a long time.”

Good expects the grocer-anchored block to wind up with 75,000 to 100,000 square feet of retail. Cypress is focusing on “one block at a time, then we’ll decide what block to do next,” she says. Prescott’s outdated site plan for the Town Center includes several separate retail and residential blocks.

“We’re ready to get something going for sure,” Good says. “We want to develop a high-end retail project that’s walkable and adds value to whole Lake Highlands Town Center property. It benefits us as the landowner and obviously the community, too.”

With that said, the first tenant announcement could come soon. Make sure to enter our Lake Highlands Town Center contest to guess the date of the announcement, and win a $100 gift card to that tenant plus a celebratory bottle of wine.