Wade Park’s new landowner alluded to a bright future after more than two years of stalled construction and multiple code violations for the troubled development.

Gamma Real Estate took over ownership of the 175-acre property in February. Since then, the New York-based company has addressed a number of code violations, such as overgrown vegetation and fallen fences, said John Lettelleir, Frisco Development Services director.

The company has been working with city leaders over the past several months to discuss the vision for the development and the plans to begin construction again soon, Gamma Real Estate President Jonathan Kalikow said at a Nov. 7 Bisnow event in Frisco.

“I believe that we're going to see activity started in the not too distant future,” Kalikow said. “But again, I want to make sure that the plan we have for it is the optimal one and not one that's just rushed.”

At a business roundtable event in November, Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said an announcement could come in early 2020 for Wade Park, which was initially valued at $2 billion along Frisco’s prized corridor, the Dallas North Tollway.

“It’s actually anticipated a likely closing of that property in December to a development company that you would all recognize,” Cheney said. “I can’t tell you yet who it is, but I think everyone would be pleased with the level of projects that they have done.”

Code violations

The Wade Park property at the southeast corner of Dallas Parkway and Lebanon Road has sat vacant with nothing but a few partially built structures and the beginnings of an underground parking garage.

The previous landowner, Thomas Land & Development, broke ground on the project in 2014 with promises to bring a mix of retail, office space, hotels and residential. Tenants such as Whole Foods, iPic Theaters, Hotel ZaZa and Pinstripes Bowling committed to the project.

But by 2017, Thomas Land & Development struggled to pay contractors and suppliers, who had filed liens for unpaid services and materials. Many tenants pulled out of the project after construction eventually halted.

Between August 2017 and August 2019, code enforcement employees have inspected the property at least 50 times, according to a summary report employees filled out. Employees have visited the site more times than that as Lettelleir said he asked them to drive by at least once a day.

At least five citations have been posted in that same time frame for overgrown vegetation, fallen fences and trash on the property.

Gamma became involved with Wade Park in early 2017 when it provided an $82.75 million loan to keep construction moving. Later that year–two years after the first phase of the development was scheduled to open–multiple tenants had dropped out of the project.

At about that time, Wade Park received its first notice of a code violation from the city. The notice indicated overgrown vegetation.

One of the city’s main concerns has been making sure the public couldn’t access the property because of the hole created for the underground parking garage, Lettelleir said.

“Where that hole is, if someone gets into the property, it’s a challenge to see it,” he said.

The fence around the property has fallen multiple times in the past two years and the gates have been left open, according to city emails.

Lettelleir said the Wade Park property has been a challenge for code enforcement employees, not just because of the number of violations but because they were working with an out-of-state landowner.

“That makes it challenging for code [enforcement] to issue citations,” he said. “It just adds a few more layers.”

Frisco has limited authority to manage the property since the land is not owned by the city, Lettelleir said.

Since the city began communicating with Gamma about code violations, Lettelleir said the company has been responsive and easy to work with.

“With Gamma, things are getting addressed ... they’ve stepped up,” he said.

Lettelleir said any movement on Wade Park may not happen until late next year.

“Developers are looking at the property, but they’re just doing their due diligence on it,” he said. “Maybe we’ll have something by the end of next year. But no guarantee on that.”