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HOUSTON-A joint venture of two Houston-based real estate players, AmREIT and Jefco Development break, ground today on the first phase of the Gardens at Westgreen, a $15-million retail and entertainment center set on 13 acres at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Westgreen Road in the far west submarket.

The 61,000-sf first phase, set to deliver in October, is about 45% pre-leased to primarily restaurants and bars, Todd McDonald, vice president of AmREIT, tells GlobeSt.com. The only tenant to be named at this point is Tokyohana Grill & Sushi Bar, which signed for 6,000 sf. McDonald says work could begin in 90 days on a 40,000-sf second phase if leasing and construction go as planned. That retail space is dedicated to soft goods stores and entertainment shops.

“The Gardens is strategically placed in a thriving urban area of Houston that is experiencing phenomenal residential and retail growth,” Chad Braun, AmREIT’s CFO, said in a prepared statement. “We believe the West Houston community will embrace the new shopping and entertainment experience that the Gardens will bring.” The project site is near land rumored to be under consideration for a large-scale entertainment complex with a water park and I-Maxx theater.

The Gardens at Westgreen, with a courtyard as the centerpiece, was designed by Acumen and Cre8 Architects, two Houston-area architectural firms. LSI General Contractors of Houston is handling construction.

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