SHENANDOAH, TX-Less than a year and a half after its completion, the 22,500-sf Research Forest Plaza has been sold to a Southern California investment firm in an off-market transaction. The deal marks the first of a three-phase retail development by a local private partnership.

The first phase at 1500 Research Forest Dr. was completed in late 2004. Members of the selling partnership, Research Forest Partners LP of Houston, will be part of the development team for the other two phases. A final price wasn’t available, but sources familiar with the deal say comparable transactions are bringing from $250 per sf to $350 per sf.

The center, positioned at the Six Pines-Research Forest intersection, was 95% leased at the time of closing. Jeff Beard, president of J. Beard Co. LLC from the Woodlands, says high occupancy and a low lease roll were key decisionmakers. “The buyer’s purchase motivation was based on current income and projected cash flows for the center,” he explains to “It was well-leased and projected to offer a stabilized cash flow for a long time.”

According to Beard, the second phase–the 12,000-sf Research Pines Center–will be stabilized and ready for sale later this year. Meanwhile in the coming months, work is expected to start on a 23,000-sf third phase, the Plaza at Research & Pinecroft. “This was basically a right time for this partnership to sell,” Beard says.

The J. Beard Co. is leasing all three phases. A property management firm has not yet been selected.

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