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Infill is in for retail property

Dallas Business Journal - July 29, 2011 - by Candace Carlisle

CVS Pharmacy Inc. - like many other retailers - is planning its next generation store in urban infill locations in Dallas-Fort Worth.

"Developers are looking at opportunities in urban areas and places with more density," said Bryan Cornelius, one of the partners at Dallas-based Venture Commercial Real Estate. "It's a growing trend as the market grows and matures. For typical retailers, there is a limited supply of space."

The pharmacy wanted to construct a 13,000-square-foot freestanding building at the northwest corner of West Seminary Drive and Hemphill Street in Fort Worth - but there was a problem.

That area had 10 commercial and residential properties on the site.

It took a year and a half for Cornelius and Venture's Ken Reimer and Don Miller to negotiate with nine ownerships and overcome common obstacles of infill development, such as environmental and rezoning issues.

Venture Commercial represented Armstrong Development Properties Inc., the group developing the project.

The challenges in securing the south Fort Worth property were unprecedented, said Steve Bielewicz, vice president of real estate at Armstrong Development, a preferred developer for CVS.

Construction is under way, and the store is expected to open in early 2012. The new site will replace an existing store inside La Gran Plaza mall at East Seminary Drive and Interstate 35W.

Other retailers - such as auto parts and grocery stores - are eyeing urban infill locations, Cornelius said.

The trend will likely continue as retailers see urban markets as the next wave of consumer growth, he said. Those deals will likely take longer and brokers will put more work into them, Cornelius said.

"Typical retail deals take three months, but this one took five times as long," he said. "There were a lot of moving parts."