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DALLAS-In a first-time alliance, Dunhill Partners Inc. and Behringer Harvard Funds have pulled off a $13.7-million backdoor trade, getting the 98,872-sf, class A Plaza Bank Center from Today Realty Advisors. The center is the first large piece of retail for the opportunity fund’s portfolio.

The deal has been in the works most of the year, William L. Hutchinson, president of the Dallas-based Dunhill, tells GlobeSt.com. He says the hurdle to clear was a $10.1-million loan assumption held by the Charlotte, NC-headquartered Wachovia Corp., with six years left on the term.

Hutchinson, who’s been eyeing the asset for five years, told independent broker, Howard Kollinger, that he’d like to add the 9090 Skillman St. property to his four-center toehold on northeast Dallas retail space. Shortly thereafter, Kollinger returned with an opening to negotiate with the seven-year titleholder from Dallas.

“We like to pre-empt the market, jump in real fast, seal the deal and be in the title company before people know it,” Hutchinson says. The equity came from Behringer Harvard Short-Term Opportunity Fund I LP, which has a three- to five-year hold strategy much like its new partner’s. The teaming, like the deal, was delivered with a quiet introduction. Rob Jones with Trammell Crow Co. took Hutchinson to meet Robert Behringer to marry the forces of a longtime retail owner, with in-house leasing and management, to deep-pocketed equity for additional retail buys.

The first acquisition is an 85%-leased property with three, maybe four, leases that roll each year, Hutchinson says. Leases average five years for the 38-tenant roster. With upside in the vacancy, deals already are working for a 5,000-sf, second-floor office tenant and 4,231-sf street-level restaurant. The Plaza Bank Center is 70% retail space and the balance is office. Rents range from $12 per sf to $20 per sf, triple net.

The Spanish-style center consists of a pair of two story-buildings and a single-story anchor building leased to Compass Bank. The 17-year-old center, with a 7.3-acre foothold on one of the city’s busiest intersections at Skillman Street and Audelia Avenue, is assessed at $12 million by the Dallas Central Appraisal District.

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