January 16, 2014

H-E-B supermarkets planning big growth in DFW, expert predicts

The Stockyards may get a mixed-use development, and an outlet mall is planned in far north Fort Worth, according to speakers at a real estate gathering.

Over the next few years, consumers can expect to see specialty grocery stores anchor most of the planned retail developments across Tarrant County, a spot once dominated by the big-box store.

And San Antonio-based H-E-B, which operates Central Markets in Fort Worth and Southlake, will likely become a market leader, according to one long-time Fort Worth real estate professional.

“The grocery industry is undergoing rather tremendous change and will carry the ball forward,” Stephen Coslik, chairman of The Woodmont Co., a Fort Worth developer, told a few hundred real estate professionals at the 25th Tarrant County Commercial Real Estate Forecast at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

“H-E-B … they have 12 sites they own in greater Dallas-Fort Worth. They’re closing on a site a month. None of the stores have yet to be undertaken,” Coslik said. “The question is, when are they going to begin building their stores? By the end of the year, they’ll have 24 sites in Dallas-Fort Worth . . . 2.5 million square feet of new grocery stores anticipated over the next three to five years.”

H-E-B executives could not be reached for comment Thursday regarding Coslik’s comments.

Specialty grocery stores, such as Fresh Market and Sprouts, are planned at 6333 Camp Bowie, the shopping complex recently bought by Dallas-based Lincoln Property Co., at the Left Bank development on West Seventh Street, and at WestBend on University Drive, a development of Fort Worth-based Trademark Property Co., among others, Coslik said.

The forecast program was sponsored by the Greater Fort Worth Real Estate Council. Over the years, some 40 professionals have offered their insights into the office, industrial, retail and housing markets, and Thursday’s event was again strong on predictions.

David Berzina, executive vice president of economic development for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, hinted at a mixed-used project in the works for the historic Fort Worth Stockyards, but offered little detail.

“Watch out for Stockyards. There’s a new development that seems to be taking shape up there,” Berzina said. Asked later about the project, Berzina said it was premature to talk about it, but that it would enhance the Stockyards District as a tourist destination for many years.

Coslik also added to the intrigue by saying his firm will be involved in a 350,000-square-foot outlet shopping center off Interstate 35W near the Alliance corridor in north Fort Worth, but that details would be ready soon.

“We feel fortunate to have the opportunity,” Coslik said. “The outlet retailers have expressed a tremendous respect all of the sudden for Fort Worth.”

Commercial construction was strong in Fort Worth last year. A record-setting 10,576 commercial and residential building permits were issued worth $2.3 billion, surpassing the last peak in 2006 of $2.2 billion.

Jay Chapa, director of Fort Worth’s housing and economic development department, said the city’s growing population and an increase in big industrial projects last year boosted the numbers.

“It’s a combination of industrial and apartment building, especially high-end construction with mixed-use,” Chapa said. “The values are higher.”

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