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HOUSTON-The locally based AmREIT has acquired a second retail holding in the Galleria submarket and closed its second purchase in a week in its hometown. The latest deed to roll is Uptown Plaza, 28,000 sf of high-end shopping space at 3900 Westheimer Rd.

Tenel Tayar, AmREIT vice president of acquisitions, tells GlobeSt.com that the plan is to buy another $120 million to $150 million in 2004 after having spent $70 million this year. The REIT recently closed a $40-million stock offering and raised $15 million from limited partnerships to help fund an equity pool.

The 1.5-year-old Uptown Plaza, assessed at $6.3 million by Harris County, sits at the southeast corner of Loop 610 and Westheimer Road. In January, the REIT bought 1.3 acres at the corner of Yorktown and Westheimer, now home to a 14,000-sf Eckerd’s drug store. The combined perspective “gives AmREIT a prominent presence in one of the most prestigious retail areas in Houston,” according to a press release.

AmREIT is zeroing in on another closing before the year ends–the 16,000-sf Terrace Shops at 5115 Buffalo Speedway in the West University area of town to mark the second purchase this month from MetroNational. Last week, AmREIT took over the 18,900-sf Shops at Memorial Heights at 920 Studemont St. to push its Houston holdings to 25 in a 60-property portfolio in the US.

Tayar says AmREIT favors properties likely to have a continuous cash flow in good times and bad, a strategy that’s particularly important when paying shareholder dividends on a monthly basis. The property contains a freestanding CVS drugstore plus the shopping center anchored by the Grotto, the newest dining concept of Houston-based Landry’s Restaurant Inc. At closing, the center had 4,800 sf of inline space available, which will be marketed at $38 per sf. Tayar says AmREIT really “pursued” the property because it’s an “irreplaceable corner.”

George Cushing, senior vice president in Houston for Grubb & Ellis Co., tells GlobeSt.com that the property went up for sale about a year ago for $13.1 million. Although there were several interested buyers, it was decided that parking needed to be addressed before a sale could close. Cushing says the CVS pharmacy had no reserve parking and Grotto customers were monopolizing the majority of spaces. The solution was to build a two-story parking garage, which effectively took the property from the market until completion in the spring when AmREIT emerged as a suitor and “bid aggressively.” Cushing and Paula Foster, also with Grubb & Ellis, represented the sellers, George Lake, Rocky Stevens and Kyle Tausch.

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