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ARLINGTON, TX-First it was the 100,000-sf neighborhood shopping center that was supposed to accommodate the area’s small businesses. Then came the 200,000-sf grocery-anchored retail community center that also was intended to house mom-and-pop entrepreneurs. Now a new product has evolved, as reported in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram in fast growing southeast Arlington—the 15,000-sf to 30,000-sf, stand-alone structure that will house five or six tenants and cater to the on-the-go, no time to browse shopper.

“You might even compare them to the neighborhood convenience stores,” a Fort Worth broker involved with several of the new-trend says. “They’re faster to build, easier to maintain and lease up quickly at rents the mom-and-popper can afford.” He estimates hard construction costs at $75 to $95 per sf. By comparison, Regional shopping centers generally go up today at over $200 per sf.

The broker estimates leasing rates at the mini centers are in the $10-per-sf to $15-per-sf range. At neighborhood and community centers, the rents for non-anchors can be, on average, from $16 per sf to $26 per sf and more than $30 per sf at regional malls.

What is surprising, say some brokers, is that the new mini shopping center trend is developing even as 1.5 million sf of new retail is under development at the open-air Arlington Highlands Shopping Center on Interstate 20 and Lake Prairie Town Crossing on Texas 360.

Among the new minis being planned or completed are: ART Properties’ 16,000-sf Shops at the Commons at the southwest corner of New York Avenue and Syracuse Court; Cross Creek, a 17,730-sf building on the northeast corner and Green Oaks Boulevard; a 34,720-sf site on the east side of the 17,730-sf structure; and College Crossing, a 13,800-sf center at the northeast corner of New York Avenue and Southeast Parkway.

Area construction sources say all of the mini shopping centers generally have at least one common denominator—they are near residential neighborhoods with growing families or near a successful junior college or other educational institution with an increasing enrollment. “This breed of shopper doesn’t want to walk or drive over a half mile of parking lot space just to buy a quart of milk or a pizza,” says a broker following the trend.

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