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HOUSTON-A Paciugo Gelato franchisee has signed a five-year lease to open a 1,340-sf shop in the Plaza in the Park.

Robert and Susan Le of Houston plan to open doors in the summer in the 5151 Buffalo Speedway center. Matthew Reed with NewQuest Properties in Houston says a second location in the Galleria/River Oaks submarkets is being examined by the Paciugo Gelato franchisee. “In the near term, we’re looking at possible suburban locations as well,” adds Reed, who with Chad Bradshaw of the Retail Connection LP in Dallas represented the couple.

Reed tells GlobeSt.com that the spot in the 129,995-sf Plaza in the Park originally was a 5,600-sf Hallmark store. When the card dealer moved out, the center’s local owner, AmREIT, divided the space for restaurants and put a quote of $29 per sf to $31 per sf, triple net on the opening. Fish City Grill also took down part of the space. A tenant-improvement allowance of $20 per sf to $30 per sf was part of the marketing package.

Bradshaw says Paciugo Gelato’s ideal locations are lifestyle centers “with a good mix of 24-hour activity.” The franchisee’s future store count has yet to be determined, but the Houston newcomer plans to tap areas with an educated customer base and high disposable incomes. “This is the type of business that thrives on lifetime activity,” Bradshaw adds. “If there’s a theater near the location or higher-end soft goods stores like bookstores, they can tap into that as well.”

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