photoMarriott Residence Inn, Denny’s and In-N-Out Burger are the first retail tenants announced for the Canyon in Oak Cliff. Developer Stratford Land made the announcement at a groundbreaking for the 200-acre development near Interstate-30 and Westmoreland Tuesday.

“We’ve been trying to get a grocery store tenant, but we’re not there yet,” says Frank Mihalopoulos of Corinth Properties, which is brokering the development’s retail deals.

Steve Sanders of Stratford Land, the property’s developer, says he expects at least 10 restaurants to sign on in the next two years. Before that happens, roadways leading to the development are being reworked.

The developer plans to relocate the eastbound I-30 exit ramp at Westmoreland to create a three-lane frontage road for access to The Canyon. Also, West Colorado will be extended to Westmoreland.

“Once you can access the site, the retailers will come,” Sanders says.

Stratford Land has been compiling parcels since 2007 to create the massive development, which the defunct Incap Fund originally had envisioned.

Councilman Scott Griggs says he toured the property years ago, when it was covered in privet and full of discarded tires and trash. The transformation is “unbelievable,” he says.

“Southern Dallas has the most beautiful land there is,” Mayor Mike Rawlings told the crowd of council members and real estate folks gathered for the groundbreaking. “It’s our own little Hill Country here.”

The Canyon in Oak Cliff could have as many as 7,500 residential units, 1,000 hotel rooms, 1.2 million square feet of office space and 800,000 square feet of retail. The property abuts Pinnacle Park, and a natural creek line, set in the “canyon,” between the property’s two hills, will be made into a water feature. Check out an interactive map of the proposed development here.

The entire development could take about eight years to become a reality, Sanders says.