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AUSTIN-Bill Hart didn’t go far to find a place in which to invest the money he received for selling 16 acres along North MoPac Expressway to Lowe’s Discount Warehouses Inc. He went just a few blocks east, to 2438 Anderson Lane, to buy West Anderson Plaza.

In April, Hart sold the former Hart Graphics site in the 6700-6800 block of N. MoPac to Lowe’s, which plans to open a 138,000-sf store at the site next year in the north submarket. Hart had closed the printing business in July 2001.

Fred Higgins, the investment specialist at NAI Commercial Industrial Properties Co. who represented Hart in the deal, says the purchase shows Hart’s confidence in the area. “They chose to invest not only right here in their own community but in the same neighborhood,” he says. “They think it’s a good, vibrant neighborhood with a good long-term future.”

Just because he didn’t go far, doesn’t mean Hart didn’t look far, Higgins tells GlobeSt.com. “Basically, he could have gone anywhere. In fact, we did look at properties in other states,” he says. “But, by and large, he’s a pretty hands-on management guy and I think when it came down to it what really appealed to him was staying directly involved in the management rather than being an absentee landlord.”

Hart, through an entity called HG Realty, bought the 116,500-sf center from West Anderson Plaza, a partnership of Ken Carr’s Carr Development. For Hart, the deal was a 1031 Exchange using proceeds from the Lowe’s transaction, Higgins says. The shopping center’s price was not disclosed. The assessed market value is $9.7 million for the 24-year-old center, according to the Travis Central Appraisal District.

West Anderson Plaza, built in 1978, is 92% leased. Its 23 tenants include Houston’s restaurant, Souper Salad, Hest Fitness, El Taller Gallery and Sun & Ski Sports. Higgins says improvements will be made to the center over the next few years. NAI CIP’s Bryan McMurrey and Eric DeJernett will handle the leasing. With the sale, CIP/Property Management Services Inc. will manage the property.

The center was not on the market, according to Higgins. But, he says, it’s a broker’s job to know who owns property and what their plans are. He says Carr may take the money from the sale and put it toward a new development or redevelopment of an existing property. Carr could not be reached.

West Anderson Plaza is situated in the center of a busy retail area in north Austin. The submarket had a 93.55% occupancy rate at the end of the second quarter, according to NAI CIP’s figures.

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