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THE WOODLANDS, TX-With Texas once again on its radar screen, Chicago-based Heitman LLC has bought 585,915 sf of prime retail in two shopping centers near Woodlands Mall. Sources say the class A space has brought north of $100 million.

In a short spin on the market, the portfolio cornered 15 to 20 offers from would-be buyers eyeing the chance to control what amounts to 70% of the community and power center space surrounding the 1.4-million-sf mall, Barry Brown, managing director in Dallas for Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP, tells GlobeSt.com. The 84%-leased portfolio consists of the 375,064-sf Pinecroft Center I and II at 1600-1700 Lake Woodlands Dr., including a 17-screen Cinemark Tinseltown at 1600 Lake Robbins Dr.; and the 210,851-sf Wood Ridge Plaza at 27100-800 IH 45 North. The New York City-based DRA Advisors LLC on behalf of institutional investors brought the Woodlands package to market in a no-ask, free-and-clear scenario.

The 54-acre acquisition is believed to be Heitman’s first piece of retail in the Greater Houston market. In a renewed focus on Texas, Heitman last year bought the Great Hills portfolio in Austin. “They’ve made a pretty good run in the past 12 months,” says Brown, who teamed with HFF managing director Jim Batjer to cinch the deal for DRA.

The upside for the newest portfolio member is the 16% vacancy, which includes a 50,000-sf, shuttered Service Merchandise store in Pinecroft. “With the tenancy that’s leased, there’s not much rollover exposure. This year is put to bed,” Brown says.

Dallas-based Weitzman Group and affiliate Cencor Realty Services got the leasing and management contracts about a year ago and will continue to oversee the centers, which sit on opposite sides of Interstate 45. “We started a good relationship with Heitman in Austin,” says David Stukalin, Weitzman’s president in Houston, “and we look forward to continuing that relationship in Houston.”

Brown says Heitman probably will make some cosmetic upgrades. Pinecroft was developed in 1994, expanded in 2002 and again in 2004 when a 30,000-sf store was doubled to accommodate the region’s first Mega-Marshalls location. Wood Ridge was built in 1977.

Sources believe the portfolio brought significantly more than was anticipated due to the number of offers, tenant rosters, shadow anchors and a mall neighbor with high foot traffic and sales numbers. Target and Linens ‘n Things are the shadow anchors. Pinecroft’s roster includes Bed, Bath & Beyond, Ross Dress for Less and OfficeMax while Wood Ridge is fueled by Office Depot, Tweeters, Pier I Imports and JoAnn’s Fabric & Crafts.

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