Construction delays keep buses parked


    Construction on a student apartment and retail complex on a commuter parking lot near Berry Street has been delayed until December so developers will have time to complete the entire development at once, officials said.

    Phoenix Property Co., who will be in charge of construction on the new structures, didn’t want to open the property in the middle of the school year for fear that the apartments would be left vacant.

    “Contractors couldn’t complete it in 16 months, and it was too much risk not to make it on time,” said Jason Runnels, a senior partner of the company.

    The 18-month project will break ground in December, which means the two buildings and parking garage are scheduled to be completed in July 2006, Runnels said at a neighborhood meeting Wednesday night.

    The commuter lot, which is located between Berry and Bowie streets, south of the Tucker Technology Center, will close in August to allow for preconstruction activities, he said at the meeting in the Kelly Alumni Center.

    Construction was slated to begin March 1, but that date was pushed back to March 22 because the contractors could not guarantee completion by fall 2005, Runnels said.

    The complex, which will have a six-story building facing Berry Street and a five-story building facing the TCU campus, will have 247 apartment units and house 600 students. Rent will range from $600 to $900 per month, depending on the number of bedrooms, Runnels said. This includes furniture, cable, Internet and phone service, all utilities except electric and a reserved parking spot.

    The two buildings will be connected by a parking garage with ample parking space for residents and shoppers, said Jeffery Povero, a Robert A. M. Stern architect who helped design the building.

    The design of the complex was created specifically for TCU, and it will mirror the style of other campus buildings as well as Fort Worth architecture in an effort to revitalize Berry Street, Povero said.

    “Our whole practice is built upon the idea that every place you go has an identity,” Povero said. “We are committed to this kind of work.”

    Perrotti’s Pizza has reached a long-term agreement with Phoenix to move into the new complex in exchange for a discounted rent rate. Before construction begins, Phoenix will also pay for Perrotti’s to relocate into a strip center across the street from their current location on Greene Avenue.

    “They only got a little bit of cash in their pocket,” Runnels said of the agreement. “But we wanted them to stay.”

    Runnels declined to comment on the exact financial details of the agreement that was reached with Perrotti’s Pizza.

    The new facility will incorporate red tiles on the roof and the bricks will match the other buildings on campus, said Don Mills, vice chancellor for student affairs. The tower on the building will also be similar to the university church tower, he said.

    The ground floor of the complex will have retail space for national chains and local businesses, Runnels said.

    The names of retailers who will rent space on the bottom floor of the building are not known, but a restaurant and a beauty salon have inquired about the space, Mills said.
    Retailers will pay between $25 and $35 per square foot, Runnels said.

    Mills said the complex fits into the university’s long-term plans to make the campus more pedestrian friendly because students can walk to class and have access to restaurants and shops. It will have all the advantages of off- and on-campus living, he said.

    “The long-term solution is to get people to not have to drive to school in the morning,” Mills said.

    The project will be a catalyst for other kinds of development on Berry Street and will bring the city one step closer to its goal of creating an urban village, Mills said.

    “We are committed to taking places like Berry Street that have lost their luster and bringing them back to something special,” Povero said.