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HOUSTON-A Connecticut real estate firm has returned to Texas after a long hiatus by paying nearly $15.8 million in cash for Easton Commons Plaza in the Copperfield area of northwest Houston.

Hutensky Capital Partners LLC of Hartford is on the lookout for more buys in the Lone State State, Veronique Longo, a Hutensky Group assistant vice president, tells GlobeSt.com. The firm marked the market re-entry with a 191,739-sf, Kroger-anchored center at 8470-8592 Highway 6. According to Longo, Hutensky was not in competition with other potential buyers for a property sold by its developer, Levcor Inc. of Houston.

The Hutensky Group specializes in the acquisition and repositioning of under-performing retail properties. But, Longo says Easton Commons is in good shape and more than 90% occupied so she’s not classifying it as “under-performing.” Some tenants are paying rents well below the market average of $13 per sf to $24 per sf so there is room to increase rents. Longo says some minor capital improvements will be made to the center, but the capital outlay will be minimal.

In a prepared statement, principal Brad Hutensky says the property is “a strong Kroger-anchored center in a high-growth area with lots of potential for appreciation over the long-term.”

According to Levcor’s research, the one-mile trade area has an average household income of $78,756 per year. The three-mile trade area’s average is $71,777 annually.

Built in 1984, the center is situated on 19.5 acres. In addition to Kroger and a Loew’s Theater, the tenant roster includes Eckerd Drug, Neal’s Unfinished Furniture, Dollar Tree and Pizza Hut. The center acquisition included two outparcel tenants, Kelsey Seybold Clinic and an Italian restaurant. Whataburger and Blockbuster Video own their outparcel locations.

Longo says the firm is looking for retail properties, upward of 100,000 sf, in primary or strong secondary markets in Texas. The buyer typically acquires properties anchored by national or regional discounters, grocers or big box retailers. Rich Caron of Landmark Realty in Coconut Grove, FL represented Hutensky in the acquisition.

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