New plaza to open in 2010 north of campus

WestBend, a new mixed-use retail project on University Drive across from University Park Village, will be the latest development in an underserved retail market, a developer said.

“We’re going to provide the retail a city this size really needs and wants,” said Tommy Miller, senior partner of Trademark Property Co., which is handling the project. Miller said the project will be completed by spring 2010.

Vanessa Becerra, a freshman vocal performance major, said she shops at the University Park Village about once every other week and said the area is underdeveloped compared to other shopping centers.

The $100 million project, which sits next to the Trinity River, will include retail stores, restaurants, a hotel, a parking garage and office space, Miller said. The project will be a combination of mid-rise buildings of various sizes with retail on the ground floors, he said.

Retail stores Anthropologie and J.Crew have signed leases for the project, Miller said. No further agreements have been made with other retailers, he said.

The developers are still working on settling agreements with restaurants for the project, Miller said. The project will likely have two to three fine dining restaurants and a couple of casual cafes.

Silver Fox Steakhouse, which currently sits on the site, will be fully renovated to fit in with the project, as will the interior of the existing 10-story office building, Miller said. Trademark is currently deciding between two upscale hotel brands that will open at the project, Miller said.

“Based on the companies that we’re talking to now, this will be the nicest hotel in all of the university district,” Miller said.

Trademark would not release the names of the possible hotel companies, but it will likely be its next announcement, Miller said.

The center of the project will have an oval-shaped plaza with a fountain and public art, Miller said. The plaza will lead toward the river into a trailhead with bike racks, places to sit and a map of the Trinity Trails.

Trademark is in discussions with Streams and Valleys Inc. to link WestBend to the Trinity Trails system, Miller said.

Adelaide Leavens, executive director of Streams and Valleys Inc., said WestBend is one of the first developments along the Trinity River that has taken advantage of being a part of the Trinity Trails.

One of the main suggestions trail users have is that they would like more activity on the trail, Leavens said.

“People want destinations,” Leavens said. “They don’t want to just use the trails only for recreational purposes.”

Miller said the developers were eager to take advantage of being close to the Trinity River.

“The goals is to have shops and restaurants with outdoor seating right on the river,” Miller said. “It’s going to be a really neat, urban, highly walkable project.”

Shannon Field, a senior movement science major, said she has not been on the Trinity Trails but wouldn’t be opposed to trying it out if it was linked to the project.

“I think if it promotes exercise, then that’s a good thing for the community,” Field said.

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