Couple keys Rockwall's new lakeside
Dallas Business Journal - November 3, 2006
by Sandra Zaragoza
DYNAMIC DUO: Developer Rob Whittle and his wife, Sara Whittle, say their mixed-use project, The Harbor, has
been their largest collaborative effort.
Some couples build a dream home. If you are Rob and Sara Whittle, you build a dream
mixed-use development on the city of Rockwall's lake shore.
Residential developer Rob Whittle compared The Harbor, a 31-acre retail office and hotel
project that is under development on the shore of Lake Ray Hubbard, to "building a house
together." Whittle, who owns Rockwall-based Whittle Development, declined to specify
the project's price tag, but says they've invested substantially more than $60 million on the
"We, literally, live five minutes from the project," Rob Whittle said. "It's been fun."
The couple tapped architects O'Brien & Associates of Dallas and Cleveland-based Kaczmar & Associates for the project.
The city of Rockwall spent about $19 million to pepper the development with public
boardwalks, fountains, plazas and walkways, according to Julie Couch, Rockwall city
manager. The city-funded areas will open to the public on Nov. 4.
The Harbor may be similar in name to the Bass Pro Shops-anchored Harbor Pointe mixeduse
development in Garland, but Whittle believes each project's distinct look will help people
The Whittles hand-picked the Harbor's restaurant and specialty boutique lineup. Gloria's
Mexican restaurant opens on Nov. 5 and a Ruby Tuesday is set to open on Nov. 15. Other
tenants set to open soon include Dodie's Cajun Seafood, Finnegan's sandwich shop, En Fuego
cigar shop and Omaha, Neb.-based Scooter's Coffeehouse.
Bob Voelker, of Cleveland-based Gateway Hospitality, is opening up a 7,000-square-foot
restaurant, Blue Canyon. Gateway Hospitality also has been tapped to manage the Whittles'
230-room full-service Hilton Hotel. The $30 million hotel, which faces the lake, will have
25,000 square feet of conference space.
The Whittles plan to make available an additional 100,000 square feet of retail space in
Bob Young, managing director of Dallas-based The Weitzman Group, says that while
lakeside developments are hot right now, the long-term success of The Harbor will depend
on sustaining the right tenant mix that makes it a destination.
But The Harbor's family ownership is an advantage, Young says:
"Where you have an owner and operator in the retail business, and you are there minding the
store, the chances of success are far greater," Young said.
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