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Saks to join Domain retailers · 06.10.08

By Shonda Novak
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Saks Fifth Avenue will open an 80,000-square-foot store as part of Endeavor's Domain, completing the lineup of major high-end department stores at a development that will add 8.5 million square feet of shops, residences, hotel rooms and offices to North Austin.

The new Saks store will replace the retailer's 50,000-square-foot store in the Arboretum area.

Saks plans to open the store by fall 2011. It will join a 144,000-square-foot Nordstrom that will open around the same time.

A new Whole Foods Market is expected to open in the spring of 2011 at the main entrance on the north side.

Endeavor is developing the Domain on 176 acres near North MoPac Boulevard and Burnet Road, with completion expected in 10 to 12 years.

"We are excited about plans for our new Saks Fifth Avenue store in Austin, which will allow us to expand our merchandise and service offerings in this important market," Steve Sadove, chairman and chief executive officer of Saks, said in a statement.

Endeavor's development is adjacent to an upscale retail and residential project of the same name, anchored by Austin's first Neiman Marcus and a Macy's. Endeavor developed that project as well, bringing in Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group as a partner. Simon acquired Endeavor's partnership interest last year.

Kirk Rudy, a principal with Austin-based Endeavor, said Saks will join a "lineup of first-in-class retailers."

Rudy said Saks officials "went through a very thoughtful, thorough decision process" in deciding whether to move.

"At the end, Saks decided the Domain already has and will continue to have a great amount of activity and energy," Rudy said.

Endeavor's project will have 725,000 square feet of retail, part of nearly 2 million total that includes Simon's existing and future phases. That will make the area the largest retail concentration in Central Texas, Rudy said.

Simon's next phase will include a Dillard's and Dick's Sporting Goods, along with Austin's first Westin hotel, which is scheduled to break ground soon.

Endeavor's project will have three hotels. One, to be developed by Atlanta-based Novare Group and its Austin partner, Andrews Urban, will be called Twelve Domain. It will have 145 guest rooms in a 28-story condominium/hotel tower that would be Austin's tallest building outside downtown.

In addition, a six-story Aloft hotel, a boutique brand of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., will be a joint venture of Open Hospitality Partners, a Dallas-based firm, and Lodgeworks of Wichita, Kan. The hotel is expected to break ground in mid-July, said Mark Masinter, president of Open Hospitality.

Meanwhile, construction is under way on a 175,000-square-foot office building, an Endeavor project that will open in early 2009.

Plans also call for 5,000 residential units. Endeavor originally planned to start work on the first 240 apartments this year, but the plan has changed to the second quarter of 2009, Rudy said. He said that market conditions weren't a factor but that the planning process has taken longer than expected.

Endeavor expects its Domain to house more than 6,000 residents and 17,500 office workers when completed.

Endeavor has previously put the project's cost at $1.5 billion. On Monday, Rudy declined to specify the project's cost.

He said Endeavor has no plans to talk to the city about incentives, "but you never know what's going to happen in the future." He has said the project will be built with or without city help.

snovak@statesman.com; 445-3856