(Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

(Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

“The lease is fully executed. Architects are engaged. The money has changed hands. That’s when you know things are really real,” says Mark Hajdu of property broker Triumph, who called us today to share the news that Alamo Drafthouse is definitely taking over the former Tom Thumb space at Skillman-Abrams.

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Like any major new development, there are still city hoops aplenty to jump through before the development can fully take shape. But with a signed lease in hand, the first major hurdle has been cleared.

The whispers of an Alamo in Lake Highlands reached a roar in recent weeks, with real estate experts telling us Alamo would “bring a whole new life” to that shopping center. Hajdu tells us construction begins in two weeks to turn the interior space into a shell that Alamo can redesign, and the arthouse theater is expected to open April 1, 2017.

“The only other lease we have signed is a Sprint [store], but we have lots of interest,” Hajdu says.

Skillman Abrams Shopping Center owner Retail Plazas Inc. will renovate the entire shopping center, he says, overhauling the facade, which he says will look “sharp. It’s going to be really nice.”

“I’m so excited,” continues Hajdu, a Merriman Park Estates resident who thereby has a “vested interest” in the property, he says. “We’re talking to a million different tenants from Rudy’s to El Fenix to a pizza concept to an Asian fusion concept. We have more interest than we have space.”

In the next few days, we’ll have renderings, more stories on changes for this shopping center and the surrounding area, plus a look at how an Alamo-anchored center will complement and compete with the nearby Lake Highlands Town Center, on lakehighlands.advocatemag.com.