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(For more retail coverage, click GlobeSt.com/RETAIL and the debt and equity markets, click here.)

DALLAS-Locally based Cencor Realty Services has secured $38 million from a life insurance company to shore up its plan for a long-term hold of 249,515 sf of class A retail in South Houston and Northeast Dallas. The double deal signals an early close-out of construction financing.

Randy Woodruff, Cencor’s CFO, tells GlobeSt.com that the financing from Aetna Life Insurance Co. wipes out construction debt “at least six to eight months early” for the 144,485-sf second phase of the Crossing at 518 in the City of Pearland and 105,030-sf Firewheel Market at 4430 Lavon Dr. in Garland. “These are long-term hold assets for us so our deal was in today’s low-rate environment to lock up that rate as long as we could,” he explains. The permanent capital was locked in at a sub-6% fixed-rate for at least 10 years.

Mark West, managing director in Dallas for Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP, says the assets’ qualities and Cencor’s planned hold made the financing a prime candidate for a life insurance lender. The competition was a near 50-50 mix of life insurance companies and conduits, he says.

“With life insurance companies continuing to increase their allocations for mortgages and trying to put out more money for real estate that makes it a more competitive landscape,” West says. “It was a very, very typical case of a top-tier developer transacting with a top-tier life insurance company. Because the quality of the assets is so good, it’s just a good match.”

West says the refinances were inked within 60 days. “There was a large amount of interest from the lending community,” he says.

The Crossing at 518 is a regional power center along Texas 288, with a 15,000-sf building waiting to come out of the ground. In January, Cencor secured permanent financing for the first phase through JPMorgan Mortgage Capital Inc. of New York City. When the Aetna loan closed for the second phase, it was 90% leased so it’s a safe bet that it won’t be long before the final piece breaks ground. The second phase, which delivered in late 2005, is anchored by Best Buy, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Old Navy.

The 9.9-acre Firewheel Market, also a late 2005 completion, is on the periphery of the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group’s Firewheel Mall. The 70%-leased specialty lifestyle center boasts a restaurant lineup with Flying Fish, Pei Wei Asian Diner, Christina’s Mexican Restaurant, Chipotle and Potbelly Sandwich Works.

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