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CONROE, TX-Craig Realty Group, one of the largest outlet center owners in the nation, has beaten out more than 10 other investors to make its first buy in Texas. The Newport Beach, CA-based investor has purchased Conroe Outlet Center, a 282,053-sf centerlocated at 1111 League Line Rd.

The purchase price was not disclosed. According to the Montgomery County Appraisal District, the center’s assessed value is just under $15 million.

The center was sold by New York Life Investment Management LLC and CalPERS, which took possession of the center after Prime Outlet Centers defaulted on the property two years ago. The institutions outsourced the leasing and management to CB Richard Ellis Inc. Since 2002, the center has undergone physical improvements and its occupancy strengthened.

“Conroe Outlet Center was really well received,” says Richard Frolik, a senior vice president of CBRE’s Chicago shopping center investment team, who brokered the deal. “It’s an excellent value-added opportunity because of the vacancy, but at the same time it also has great existing tenants.” The center was on the market roughly six months, he adds.

Built in 1992 and situated on 40 acres in north Conroe, the center was 78.3% leased at the time of sale to tenants like Liz Claiborne, NIKE, Levi’s, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger Clearance and Mikasa.

Frolik tells that the north Houston corridor along Interstate 45 is “under-outleted”–meaning there are few, if any, competitive properties nearby. Moreover, the asset offers strong freeway visibility and access.

According to Frolik, Craig Realty Group paid cash for the center, which will likely undergo a merchandizing campaign to “help existing tenant grow sales and bring in new tenants.” Craig Realty Group currently owns 10 outlet centers in the US and one in Italy.

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