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The son of prominent philanthropists takes on the challenge to create businesses and opportunities

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez,

As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint edition.

James “Will” Collins, Jr., the principal of Terracor, a real estate company, is becoming a familiar face in South Texas. A McAllen, Texas native, Will has started significant developments that will impact the economy of the metropolitan area of Hidalgo and Cameron Counties.

During the fall of 2001, his academic background included attending La Fundación José Ortega y Gasset in Madrid, Spain for International Business Studies during which he took specialized courses on International Finance, European Business Culture and Ethics.

In December 2003, Will graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX with a BBA in Finance and has taken specialized courses in Real Estate Fundamentals, Real Estate Valuation, Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management.

Formerly a senior vice president for Vantage Bank Texas in San Antonio, he was responsible for originating $20MM in commercial loans over a twelve-month period. He was also responsible for underwriting, originating, managing the funding process, and managing all commercial loan relationships originated. He was also recognized for being the top loan producer for the bank in 2012.

Today, Will, is in the middle of his latest development now under construction at the corner of Expressway 83 and 29th Street in McAllen, Texas.

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Will told Texas Border Business that the project was named ‘Shops At 29’ and will feature Bubba’s 33 which has three restaurants in one. According to founder and CEO, Kent Taylor, this eatery has a family dining section, the garage bar, and a dining area with a bar. They stone bake pizzas in-house, grind burgers, and even bake their buns from scratch.

Shops At 29 will become a fast destination for patrons from all over the South Texas border region and Mexico. It also will be featuring Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, a fast casual restaurant chain that specializes in various sandwiches and burgers, as well as frozen custard. Freddy’s also has a few varieties of beef and chicken burgers, and sandwiches. In addition to 3 different hot dogs: Freddy’s Hot Dog, Chicago Dog-Freddy’s Style, and a Chili Cheese Dog.

In the mix comes Burlington Coat Factory, a very popular store that sells quality products at 65% off compared to other retailers’ prices. They proudly say; “You NEVER have to wait for a sale or clip coupons to get an amazing deal.”

Ross clothing store will also be part of the shopping center, which offers a variety of women’s clothes at a lesser price.

On June 1, 2016, the young developer in conjunction with the City of McAllen broke ground for the upcoming Dave & Buster’s (D&B) project, which is set to open in the second quarter of 2017, offering residents the only place to eat, drink, play, and watch sports.

Will pointed out that Dave & Buster’s (D&B) complements Shops At 29 significantly, which will offer 200,000 square feet of shopping, dining, and entertainment to McAllen and the surrounding communities.

The 30,000 sq. ft. D&B entertainment destination is an ideal fit for the west development of the city, as McAllen continues to grow to make entertainment a top priority.

Rebecca Olaguibel, the retail and business development director for McAllen, acted as master of the ceremony and said, “We are here at Shops At 29, one of the most vibrant and beautiful new developments that the City of McAllen has to offer, thanks to Terracor Development Services.”

Mayor Jim Darling told Texas Border Business the city had pursued Dave & Buster’s in the past because there was a genuine interest in bringing them to the city. According to Mayor Darling, the concept is unique and its proximity to the McAllen Convention Center area makes it an exciting venue.

Will told Texas Border Business that he and his team were extremely excited to have a first class operator like Dave & Buster’s join the Shops At 29.

He also recognized the efforts of the city and how they work to get things done that is important to the city. “I want to thank the City of McAllen for all their hard work and dedication to bringing Dave & Buster’s to McAllen.” He said, “It’s been a long, hard-fought process not without a lot of really tough competition. Without the help and support of Roy Rodriguez, Kevin Pagan, Michelle Leftwich and especially Rebecca Olaguibel and the support of Mayor Darling and the City Commission this would not have been possible.”

Roy Rodriguez, the manager of the City of McAllen, was elated to have worked on the Dave & Buster’s project. Aside from saying that he ‘often hears that God loves McAllen,’ which was received with resounding applause, he added, “This entertainment destination will be a place for families from across the region to enjoy and create lifetime memories.”

To his credit, Will was part of a group that put together a sophisticated deal about Dave & Buster’s, that could only ever have happened by bringing together seasoned individuals.

Rodriguez explained how the deal was structured, specifically what the city had offered as part of the incentive package to bring such a unique venue to McAllen. On April 27, 2016, during the announcement, Rodriguez said that McAllen will pay for all “tenant improvements after all work is completed and open for business” by Dave and Buster’s up to $3.3 million, according to the agreement — $110 per sq. ft. for the approximately a 30,000 sq. ft. building.

Dave and Buster’s must submit invoices and other records to McAllen before receiving the tenant improvement money.

The City Commission also approved a complex rent guarantee agreement with developer James W. Collins Jr.  Dave and Buster’s will pay the developer “percentage rent,” which will be calculated based on the entertainment center’s gross sales.

* If the percentage rent falls below $194,202 annually during the first five years of the 15-year lease, McAllen will pay the developer the difference each year.

* If the percentage rent falls below $213,622 annually during the second five years of the 15-year lease, McAllen will pay the developer the difference each year.

* If the percentage rent falls below $234,948 annually during the third five years of the 15-year lease, McAllen will pay the developer the difference each year.

Once the developer collects about $3.2 million from a combination of the percentage rent paid by Dave and Buster’s and rent grants provided by the city, McAllen will make no further payments to the developer.

The agreement allows McAllen to recoup the cost of the tenant improvements paid to Dave and Buster’s and any rent grants paid to the developer.

After the developer collects about $3.2 million, McAllen will receive the percentage rent from Dave and Buster’s until the tenant improvement costs and any rent grants have been repaid.

McAllen and the developer will split any percentage rent payments from that point through the 15th year of the lease.

Rodriguez had been very much a part of the effort to make this happen. “In fact,” he said. “I remember flying to Dallas; Commissioner Scott Crane was with us when we first tried to talk to Dave & Buster’s about coming down to McAllen.”

Steve Ahlenius, president, and CEO of the McAllen Chamber offered this opinion about Dave & Buster’s coming to McAllen, “Well, I think it’s a huge success story for McAllen, it speaks well of McAllen.” He said, “I don’t think Dave & Buster’s will build several of these locations in South Texas, having it in McAllen makes sense.”

Steve also pointed out that this project brings another element to having entertainment. “Will Collins knows what he’s doing as far as development, he has put the pieces of the puzzle together, and I think they’re going to have great success here.”

The significance of this venue for the region is a positive economic impact.  D&B’s specialty is family entertainment, where friends can get together, have fun, have a delicious dinner, play games, and connect with each other.

Rebecca Olaguibel was asked, what was the scope of the strategy? “For retail recruitment, it is a very narrow range. The retail that we recruit to McAllen has to be destination type and first to market. So the retailers that we’re looking at for recruitment to our area, part of our requirement is that they have at least a 200-mile draw.”

“Also part of the strategy behind retail under this development for the city of McAllen is to not only provide quality of life but to seek out venues that are unique to our area. This venue is going to be second to none”, Rebecca said.

Douglas G. Bready, Regional President for Vantage Bank and longtime friend of the Collins family, said while this reporter was interviewing Will Collins, “Don’t forget, anything that’s worth doing takes a while to get done properly. If you rush, you make mistakes.”

Mike Corbell, the regional operating director for D&B, made the announcement that Raul Gonzalez, the assistant to the general manager in San Antonio had been assigned to manage the McAllen location. “First of all, I just want to tell you how overwhelmed I am for the welcome here,” Corbel said.

Dave & Buster’s operates 86 stores nationwide; Corbel is the director over the whole state of Texas, so this will be his 12th store. “I’ve been here for a day now; I think this is going to be one of my strongest units, if not the strongest in my region,” Corbel said.

McAllen City Commissioner Trey Pebley said, “As a city commissioner, it gives me great pride that we were able to fulfill several goals with the addition of Dave & Buster’s to our fine city. One is enhancing the quality of life for our residents; two, is creating new jobs; and three, is maintaining, and improving McAllen’s status as a destination city.” It was said that the venue would create about 300 new jobs.

Will pointed out that D&B will be within walking distance from the McAllen Convention Center, the Embassy Suites Hotel, La Quinta Inn & Suites, Home2Suites hotel and the McAllen Performing Arts Center set to open this fall, and other restaurants.

Will’s parents Jim and Kathy Collins were also present and Collins Sr. had this to say about his son, “I’m so proud of Will and all my children that they’re all taking an interest in the business and this is a great project for both McAllen and the community.” He said, “Will’s learned a lot. He’s learned to be squeezed by the city and squeezed by the Dave & Buster’s. So he’s a become a better developer I’m sure.”

Will is the founder and principal of Terracor Real Estate Services based in San Antonio, Texas. He is focused on commercial real estate development and investments in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley.

Currently he has multiple projects under development:

420-acre Master Planned Community in west San Antonio, TX

200,000 sq. ft. Power Center in McAllen, TX

12,500 sq. ft. Multi-Tenant Center in McAllen, TX

Currently in the pipeline:

100,000+ sq. ft. Community Retail Center at the North West Corner of FM 495 and Conway, Mission, TX

125,000+ sq. ft. Lifestyle Mixed-Use Center at the South East Corner of Expressway 83 and Ware Rd., McAllen, TX

50,000+ sq. ft. Retail Center at the North West Corner of Expressway 83 and Bentsen Rd, McAllen, TX

Will told Texas Border Business that this has been a tremendous partnership. “I look forward to continuing to work together, to bring other new and exciting venues to the City of McAllen.” TBB

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