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HOUSTON-According to the 2001 Shopping Center Survey and Forecast survey produced by Dallas-based Weitzman Group, grocery store retail centers are leading retail construction this year. The report lists H-E-B, Albertsons and Kroger as the leading grocers anchoring the new Houston centers.

H-E-B is planning several Houston-area openings this year, including an 85,000-sf supermarket at Gulfgate Center; one at Fountain View and Westheimer; and an upscale Central Market at Westheimer and Weslayan. According to the Weitzman report, Albertsons also has eyes on the Houston market, planning to add five stores. Locations include Friendswood, FM 1960 and Gessner. Kroger will open at least four new stores this year, including one in Pearland.

The report concludes that with the strong demand for class-A retail space, the rental rates have “seen notable increases.” Class-A inline space leases from $17 per sf to $19 per sf, in comparison to the $16 per sf to $18 per sf range that had prevailed 1 1/2 years ago. Rent for second-generation space in good locations has spiked to $14 per sf to $15 per sf, with tertiary space in the $10 per sf to $12 per sf range, says the report.

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