American City Business Journals Inc.
From the February 6, 2004 print edition
At the harbor
Developer uses Croatian village as model for new McKinney project
Developer Jeffory Blackard has snapped up 44 acres in the heart of Stonebridge Ranch with plans to create a European-style, mixed-use project.
Dubbed Harbor Market Village, the $100 million complex will be modeled after the small Croatian town of Supetar on the Adriatic island of Brac.
The land deal closed Jan. 30, with Blackard and his partners paying an undisclosed sum to the seller, Newland Communities. About one-third of the property, which sits at the southeast corner of Virginia Parkway and Stonebridge Drive, borders a 50-acre lake.
Blackard, president of Blackard Group Inc., said Harbor Market Village calls for 79 villas, many of which will front the water, and about 300 condominiums or "flats," situated above lakeside retail and office space.
A trio of Dallas companies is working on the project: HKS Inc. did the masterplan, architect Warren Wilke is designing the first phase of villas and Huitt-Zollars is serving as engineer. First United Bank & Trust of McKinney is providing financing.
Blackard, 46, has developed more than 10,000 single-family lots in Texas. Five years ago, he met a restaurant owner from Croatia and eventually was persuaded by the country's ambassador to the United States to take a look at real estate opportunities there.
"When people think of Croatia, they think of bombs, but in reality, it has one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world," Blackard said.
He and a business partner bought a portfolio that included a hotel, airport and commercial properties along the Supetar harbor. After the acquisition, Blackard spent months studying the village, with the goal of replicating it in Texas.
"People want to live in the kind of villages they see in Europe," he said. "Once developers see how the village turns out, it will become the new trend across America, and won't that be nice," he said.
David Radman, partner with Blackard in Harbor Market, said the villas won't be "cookie-cutter." "Most zoning ordinances require a lot of uniformity," he said. "This allows for variances in setbacks and other things. Having that individuality between buildings and between product types will make it a lot more interesting."
Construction is expected to start in September on the lake, the villas, a bank and a private school. The villas should be ready for occupancy by September 2005.
Brian James, McKinney's director of planning, said Blackard's project has general support. To date, the McKinney City Council has approved zoning for the 8-acre villa component -- a mixture of single-family homes, duplexes and townhomes.
Ted Wilson, partner at Residential Strategies Inc., called Harbor Market Village "a unique concept that's sure to draw a lot of attention because of its novel, urban approach."
Blackard said he can't specifically predict how Harbor Market Village will turn out.
"A village isn't totally planned, it just grows," he said. "Whatever it's going to become, it becomes."
Contact DBJ writer Christine Perez at email@example.com or (214) 406-7120.
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