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HOUSTON-An Inner Loop revitalization corridor is getting its first significant shopping component with a 29,000-sf project that will break ground in first quarter 2003 along Washington Avenue.

One of the revitalization team’s residential developers, Apex Real Estate Group, has bought 3.3 acres at 5600 Washington Ave. for the undertaking. The bulk of the land, 2.3 acres, was acquired from Carl W. Poe, who was represented by Keith Jaehne of General Property & Services of Houston. The balance came from Vincent Vallone Jr. and Robert O’Neal, trustees, represented by Mike Malone of Vallone & Associates in Houston.

Apex president Josh Aruh won’t say how much he paid for the acreage, but did tell GlobeSt.com that the combined asking price was $3.5 million. Rich Robbins of Richard S. Robbins Operations handled talks for the buyer.

Aruh says up to 14,000 sf will likely belong to a national big box retailer. He is in negotiations with the prospect, whose name for now is being kept under wraps. The center will break ground in three months in a plan to open in June 2003. Mike Wheeler of Houston-based Boyd Page/ChainLinks holds the leasing assignment. And, he’s courting national tenants for the space, which is quoted at $24 per sf triple net, Aruh says.

Richard Zigler, director of research for O’Connor & Associates in Houston, says the Washington Avenue neighborhood once was considered a bit seedy, but the Inner Loop area has been completely revitalized by an outburst of expensive townhomes, urban lofts and other new residential product over the last few years. He says there are almost no major retailers in the area, making the Apex project very significant.

For the last four years, Apex has been one of the leaders in the area’s residential development. Today, the revitalized area has 3,500 new apartments, 1,200 single-family homes and pent-up demand for retail. “In the 1920s, Washington Avenue was second only to Main Street in terms of commercial activity,” Aruh said in a prepared statement.

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