The ACIMCO Board of Trustees approved a plan for the first phase of development at Allen Ridge during its weekend meeting, which could mean breaking ground within 6-9 months.
When completed, the first phase of the Village at Allen Ridge will include a multi-family residential building, a hotel, a pond, retail shops and restaurants built on 30 acres on the northeast corner of Ambler Avenue and Judge Ely Boulevard. Kelly Young, vice president for real estate development for ACIMCO, the company that manages university property, said the next step is finalizing the financing for the project.
“The estimate is that we would be between 6-9 months from breaking ground, assuming the financing comes through,” Young said.
The university is working with a development firm called BVTD LLC from Dallas. Young said Allen Ridge will be similar to another development by the same company – Watter’s Creek in the Dallas area. The company estimates construction will take one year after breaking ground.
The project has been a long time coming, Young said, as the university has owned the property since the 1940s and it was a farm for the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences until the 1990s. The university initially announced plans for the development in May 2015 and received zoning approval from the city of Abilene in September 2016. The plan for the financing and timeline was presented to the ACIMCO Board of Trustees last week.
“Their top concern continues to be that this be done right,” Young said. “They really want this to be something that ACU and the city of Abilene are proud of. The look and feel –they just want it to be very well done, sophisticated.”
The university’s financial investment has not been finalized, but the project will also be funded through various partnerships and investors for an estimated total cost of $55 million. Phase 1 of the project includes the hotel, apartments and some restaurants. Young said the retail market is more fluid, so restaurants will take priority over retail shops at first.
“You’re not there just to run quick errands, you’re there to spend some time, have dinner,” Young said. “Right now our focus is on getting a cluster of restaurants.”
Later phases of the plan could expand to additional retail depending on the needs of Abilene in the future. The apartments will be available for lease to anyone, not just students, and will be some of the highest end apartments in town.
“This is a place that we hope people come to from all over Abilene and the region,” Young said.