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HOUSTON-A private investor from Houston and another from California have spent about $29 million for two shopping centers in one-off transactions indicative of today’s retail sales market.

Houston El Dorado Partners Ltd. acquired the 119,870-sf Randall’s Center El Dorado at 570 El Dorado Blvd. in Clear Lake from locally based Weingarten Realty Investors. The 180,438-sf Southway Shopping Center at 8006-8230 S. Gessner Dr. passed from Southway Ventures LP of Houston to RPM Investment of Los Angeles.

George Cushing, senior vice president in Houston for Grubb & Ellis Co. explains individual investors see retail centers as a positive alternative to other forms of investment, such as the volatile stock market or the low interest rates that savings institutions offer. There is a high degree of interest in the Houston market, overall, from nationally active buyers/investors, he says.

“They see Houston as a good value for the money,” Cushing tells GlobeSt.com. “We look like we’re giving it away in comparison to what they’ll find in places like California.”

Cushing and Paula Foster, a vice president for Grubb & Ellis, negotiated the deals for both sellers. Jim Provost of El Dorado Partners negotiated the Randall’s acquisition, getting a fully leased center tagged for sale at $11.2 million. The Randall’s-anchored center on 9.8 acres, developed by Weingarten in 1984, attracted high interest in investment circles, reportedly pushing the price above the ask.

Assessed at $4.9 million, the grocery-anchored center’s appeal is a roster that’s 84% filled by national and regional retailers. Leasing and management contracts passed to Houston-based Transwestern Commercial Services after the sale.

The 28-year-old Southway Shopping Center, listed for $18.1 million, also attracted keen interest from a large pool of potential buyers, according to Cushing. Scott Dew with RPM Investment negotiated the buy side for the 96.5%-leased center. The 15.7-acre holding underwent a substantial renovation in 2002 through 2003. Anchor tenants include Dollar Tree, Boot Town and Shoe Carnival. Harris County assesses the holding at $7.6 million.

Cushing describes the Houston retail market as being in good condition for investors. “There’s been a good supply of both product and demand,” he says. “The market isn’t overbuilt and the product that is available is in good shape for investors to consider.”

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