One of Allen’s largest development sites is now in the hands of local developer Billingsley Company, who have big things in store for the area.
The company recently closed on 230 acres at the southwest corner of North Central Expressway and State Highway 121. The land was sold by The Howard Hughes Corp., which had plans to build Monarch City, a massive mixed-use project on the site. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Michael Swaldi and Jonathan Carrier of JLL represented the seller in the deal.
“We’re very excited. Billingsley is a group that always knows what they’re doing and has both the expertise and the capital to drive a large mixed-use project like this,” said Dan Bowman, executive director and CEO of the Allen Economic Development Corporation. “They have a real chance to set the stage for that major intersection and determine the character of it.”
In October 2019, Howard Hughes announced it would be moving its headquarters from Dallas to The Woodlands and selling off up to $2 billion of non-core assets across the country. Monarch City was listed for sale in early 2020.
The site has already been rezoned to accommodate a major mixed-use project, which could include up to 10 million square feet of total commercial space. Among this space could be up to 4 million square feet of office space, 4,000 apartments, retail and hospitality.
“We’ve been interested in the site for as long as you could look up Central Expressway and see this major intersection,” said Lucy Billingsley, partner at Billingsley Company. “You look at Central and Northwest Highway, Central and LBJ, Central and Bush, and now Central and 121. These are the most dynamic business intersections […]. If you look at the entire Metroplex, this is the most exciting intersection yet to be developed.”
While Billingsley Co. would like to build a major mixed-use development similar to that of Monarch City, Billingsley says plans won’t be exactly the same. The company is currently working on its own plan, as well as opportunities to bring a large park and trail system to the area.
“The key to office development today are the amenities. What’s the place you create? We’re first going to focus on how to create a really stunning, amenity rich place,” said Billingsley.
Along with its new site in Allen, Billingsley Co. also owns 242 acres across the highway in Fairview. The company says it’s planning a similar mixed-use development there, which will include apartments, office space and retail.
“We look at it much like Legacy East and West, where you have a huge development on one side that compliments the other,” Billingsley said.
Since fall, corporate activity has begun to pick up, not only from local companies but also from out-of-state groups looking to relocate to North Texas, says Lucy Burns, partner at Billingsley Company. While each of these groups is on a different timeline, she says the firms that have returned to work quickest are the ones that are also making relocation decisions today.
“I’m very optimistic about this market,” said Burns. “Because so many people deferred making decisions for a year, you have a backlog of decisions that really need to be made. That should add to the amount of activity that we’ll see over the next year or two.”
Despite the pandemic, a number of Billingsley Company properties have attracted new tenants. The largest lease of third quarter 2020 came courtesy of Caliber Home Loans, which took nearly 160,000 square feet at 2401 Olympus Blvd. in Cypress Waters. In January, India-based Firstsource Healthcare took a 50,000-square-foot sublease at Cypress Waters. In November, animation company Funimation filed plans to take 38,000 square feet at 3501 Olympus Blvd., also in Cypress Waters.
Billingsley Company, one of the largest developers in North Texas, is also in the works with a few other projects. The company broke ground in January on its first 10-story office building in Cypress Waters. The 300,000-square-foot property is being built as speculative. In April, the company revealed plans for a 252,000-square-foot office building at International Business Park in Plano. The project is set to break ground by fall.