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Howard Hughes Betting Monarch City Will Become Dallas-Fort Worth's Next Big Corporate Magnet

Construction Slated to Begin by Year-End on 270-Acre Mixed-Use Development
May 10, 2018

After years of creating communities such as The Woodlands in Houston or the Seaport District in New York City, Dallas-based The Howard Hughes Corp. is getting ready to start construction on its latest venture with a community-oriented, corporate magnet expected to lure Dallas-Fort Worth's next big out-of-state relocation to the northern suburb of Allen, TX.

To prepare for such an undertaking, Howard Hughes (NYSE: HHC) plans to go before the city with more specific zoning requests for the 270-acre development tract at the southwest corner of North Central Expressway and the Sam Rayburn Tollway by the end of the year.

"We want to develop a multi-use community with a diverse set of uses in an amenity-rich environment that's not your typical office park," Mark Bulmash, senior vice president of development for Howard Hughes, told CoStar News.

"It's currently planned at about 8.7 million square feet, but that could change depending on market demand," Bulmash added. "What we are planning right now will allow us to meet market demand."

The new corporate magnet, called Monarch City, was named after a part of Allen's history, Bulmash said, in which early pioneers to Allen -- and the Blackland Prairie -- noticed the abundance of Monarch butterflies on the prairie grass. The predominance of butterflies signaled to pioneers the land was fertile for cultivation, Bulmash said, and Howard Hughes is no different.

"For us, this signals a fertile opportunity," he added.
Monarch City's plans could change, depending on a corporate user or multiple corporate users signing on to the project, however, early plans include one or more office campuses, retail and restaurant space and a luxury hotel centered alongside a park that will play a big role in the larger vision of the project.

"The whole project will be organized around a park, which is unusual relative to the other projects like this, but we think it makes it a really great place not just for the people that live and work there, but a place the community can embrace," Bulmash said, adding the developer plans to go before the city with more specific zoning requests this year.

This could be Dallas-Fort Worth's next big corporate magnet to attract a big relocation to the region, with the development team hoping it turns into another successful project, like Legacy West in Plano. Legacy West was developed by Plano-based master developer Fehmi Karahan, who helped land Toyota North America and other regional corporate hubs to the $3.2 billion mixed-use development.

Bulmash said he doesn't have a tenant in his back pocket, but the "sweet spot" for Monarch City would be "some sort of build-to-suit for a presumably out-of-state corporate user coming into Dallas-Fort Worth."

If a big corporate user isn't found immediately, Bulmash said he plans to build with the market demand.

"We have this aspirational vision of doing this big audacious project and we think that vision is something that will change the community," he added. "We are offering users the ability to come in at the ground floor and help us realize this vision."

Ultimately, Bulmash said Howard Hughes executives want to not just accommodate one corporate tenant at Monarch City, but multiple corporate tenants, which would add to the community, making it a "more interesting place."

Howard Hughes Corp. has brought in a JLL team, including Jeff Eckert, James Esquivel and Jay Bailey, to oversee the marketing and leasing of the office space. JLL was the same brokerage firm that ultimately brought Toyota North America to Plano, a nearby suburb adjacent to Allen.

The mixed-use development will bring sought-after amenities and technology to one of the most active development markets in the United States, said Eckert, a managing director in JLL's Dallas office.

Those development plans, coupled with a great location, has the ability to lure something big to Allen, said Bulmash.
"Not a lot of sites have this kind of access with three nearby airports and the outstanding quality of life that Allen has to offer," he added.

For the record:

Brokers: JLL's Jeff Eckert, James Esquivel and Jay Bailey
Architect: Dallas-based Omniplan

Candace Carlisle, Dallas-Fort Worth Reporter  CoStar Group   
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