By  on January 18, 2005

DALLAS — CNL Income Properties Inc., a real estate investment trust, has agreed to purchase a 51 percent stake in the Dallas Market Center campus, including the World Trade Center, Dallas Trade Mart, International Floral and Gift Center and Market Hall, DMC and CNL officials announced Sunday.

CNL will invest $71 million over two phases and assume “a significant part” of the DMC’s $160 million debt, explained Bill Winsor, chairman and chief executive officer of DMC Co. Inc., which operates the center.

Valued at $249 million, the DMC is a 4.8 million-square-foot complex specializing in the wholesale trade of fashion, gifts, home furnishings, lighting and artificial flowers. It is an affiliate of Crow Holdings Inc., which represents the businesses of the family of real estate magnate Trammell Crow.

The DMC management company will remain wholly owned by Crow and will continue to manage the center on behalf of the joint venture between CNL and Crow, Winsor explained, noting, “It will be seamless to the tenants.”

The agreement allows Crow to retain an interest in the real estate while partnering with a company that has “tremendous access to capital and wants to invest additional capital in the DMC,” said Gina Norris, managing director of Crow Holdings.

For its part, CNL Income seeks to invest in properties that support the lifestyles of Baby Boomers, Echo Boomers and Gen-Xers, explained R. Byron Carlock Jr., president. The DMC represents a stable investment that caters to those demographic groups, he added. “We seek to support the growth of industries that are already distributed [at the DMC], and as they have need to expand, we are happy to be the financial partner to back that expansion.”

CNL Income Properties is a publicly traded division of CNL Financial Group Inc. in Orlando, Fla., a private holding company that owns $15 billion in real estate assets and manages an additional $2.5 billion. It is best known as a landlord of fast-food restaurants, hotels and resorts.

CNL Income typically invests in recreation properties, but Carlock was familiar with the DMC because he had worked for various Crow companies from 1988 to 1997. Carlock approached the DMC about nine months ago, Winsor said, noting that the company was not looking for a buyer at the time.Looking forward to “the opportunity to have a financial partner with the horsepower of CNL,” Winsor said the company has “told us there are opportunities that we ought to be investing in.”

One priority is to acquire and develop temporary trade shows both inside and outside the campus.

As part of that effort, the DMC will assume management of temporary exhibitions that are held during four annual gift and home shows. Since 1997, George Little Management has operated those shows, which include some fashion and accessories and are situated on the 12th and 13th floors of the World Trade Center as well as in neighboring Market Hall. The first temporary gift exhibits organized by the DMC will bow next January.

“We want to reinvest in the look and feel of that show and really take it to another level,” Winsor noted. “Temporary shows are a good venue for unique product that may not have the need to be there on a permanent basis. Also, this furthers our strategic plan to integrate hard goods with fashion. We have experience on both sides, and it makes sense.”

Executive vice president Georgia Davis will head the temporary gift shows.

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