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SAN JOSE, CA-Locally based retail developer Westrust expects to begin moving dirt in the next 30 days for the largest power center in the history of San Jose, and interest by retailers has been high. Named “the Plant” in deference to its former life as the General Electric Motor Plant, the 55-acre development is slated for a soft opening early next summer with 502,000 sf of national power anchor tenants, 85,000 sf of inline space, 14 food outlets, two gas stations and 8,000 sf of office space.

The $137-million, 646,000-sf project is a joint venture of locally based Westrust, Pacific Coast Capital Partners of Palo Alto, CA and Vornado Realty Trust of New York. Westrust secured the project through an RFP put out by GE. The company was selected in the fall of 2004. After a lengthy demolition and environmental clean-up, which was performed by GE, the property was handed over in March, Westrust partner Sean Whiskeman tells GlobeSt.com.

The Plant is located south of San Jose in an area that is transitioning. Nearby, more than 6,000 attached and detached homes are in the process of being built in two new communities known as Communications Hill and Dairy Hill. Whiskeman says the project is well positioned between existing competing centers such as Oakridge Mall and Eastridge Mall.

Interest in the project from retailers has been high. When grading for the project commences next month, Whiskeman says he expects over 75% of the center will have been preleased. Whiskeman is overseeing leasing and marketing for the project. Sandy Berry and Danielle Bromstead of Cornish & Carey Commercial in Santa Clara have the leasing assignment.

Already signed up are four of the 11 anchors, including Target, Home Depot, Best Buy and PetSmart. The other seven anchor spaces are under Letter of Intent. “Small box, inline and food tenant lease negotiations are very active, and we expect the project to be at least 90% leased by the grand opening in July 2007,” Whiskeman says.

The center’s performance also is expected to be strong right out of the gate. The San Francisco-based research firm Sedway Group anticipates the center will generate sales of $243 million in 2008.

The only building that remained from the demolition was GE’s historic two-story headquarters office building. It will be restored and then anchor the project’s .75-acre town square and drive the project’s overall “art moderne” design, Whiskeman says.

The architect for the project is Kenneth Rodrigues Partners of Mountain View. General Contractors for the project will be selected late this month.

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