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HOUSTON-Marking its third hand-off this year in the region, Weingarten Realty Investors has collected north of $20 million from sale of the 163,011-sf Copperfield Village. The grocery-anchored shopping center was 96% leased at sale time.

The buyer is an affiliate of the New York City-based Greenstreet Real Estate Partners LP. The center, situated at 7081 Texas 6 North, is anchored by a 61,113-sf Randall’s Market.

Weingarten acquired the center in 1996 for $13.5 million, renovated and expanded it by 11,659 sf in 2001. The seller didn’t respond to telephone calls by publication time, but local experts speculate that its sale is just part of an ongoing disposition of non-core assets.

Naveen Jaggi, director of retail services with CB Richard Ellis’s Houston office, says the 1980s-built Copperfield Village’s sale could have been tied to its age and location. “Copperfield is a little older, a little more tired,” she says, adding that Weingarten could be putting a plan into play to invest along Interstate 10 instead of the Copperfield area. “A lot of investment is pouring toward I-10 specifically, as opposed to suburban markets, or markets too far away from there.”

Ed James, senior vice president of retail and principal with locally based Moody Rambin Interests, agrees that redeployment of debt is a powerful motivation for a sale. In addition, the announced closing of Randall’s stores in the area may have spurred the sale. “Something like that casts a pall over the Houston market when it’s announced,” he says. “Weingarten was smart. They said ‘let’s divest ourselves of this. It’s not a tremendous redevelopment opportunity.’”

But the transaction most likely was not difficult, James tells GlobeSt.com. “Despite the fact there may be issues like store closures, there is so much capital chasing retail that an anchored center like that would sell for an impressive cap rate,” he says. “It’s a growing trade area with not many boxes available so I’m not surprised it would command a decent price.” To sweeten the offer, the marketing flyer says Randall’s lease is Safeway-guaranteed through 2012, providing an income stream while the search goes on for a new tenant.

Since the year began, Weingarten has disposed of the 58,476-sf Crosby Shopping Center in the northeast submarket; 87,630-sf Dickinson Village Shopping Center in the far south submarket; and has a contract for the 304,300-sf Fondren Southwest Village on the southwest side. Senior vice president George Cushing and associate Wendy Vandeventer with Grubb & Ellis Co.’s Houston office is handling many Weingarten dispositions.

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