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DALLAS-With the ink barely dry on one deal, AmREIT has closed on another piece of highly prized retail real estate in Greater Dallas. The 324,569-sf Casa Linda Plaza has changed hands for close to $40 million, according to market sources.

The 82%-leased shopping center, developed in 1946-49, is now in line for a combo restoration and renovation of a 26-acre landmark that takes in three of four corners at the Buckner Boulevard-Garland Road intersection in East Dallas. The Houston-based AmREIT is still calculating how much will be spent on the asset at 1152 N. Buckner Blvd. and 9440 Garland Rd.

“It’s a great old center. It just needs a little TLC,” Steve Hefner, the buyer’s vice president and managing director of the Dallas region, tells GlobeSt.com about the second-oldest center in the city. “It’s more about bringing the Spanish Revival style up to the 2000 era.” He says the work should get under way by midyear 2007. The early projection is it will take one year to complete.

Casa Linda’s location raked in upward of 25 offers for the no-minimum market run, says Ken Bendalin with locally based Trammell Crow Co., who teamed with Jack Crews to sell the asset for Regency Centers Inc. of Jacksonville, FL. Bendalin says institutional and private investors and REITs from all across the US were standing in line.

“Each group that came in had their own expectations as to how to create value,” Bendalin says. “There’s a big opportunity to come in there, spend some money and add high-end retailers. I see a lot of opportunity on this one.”

AmREIT Realty Investment Corp. will manage the center. But this time, Hefner says the plan is to hire a third-party leasing team. The short list is down to two, with the decision expected before the calendar turns.

Hefner says one anchor lease, Casa Linda Cafeteria, is in the process of being renewed. In addition, 13% of the leases will roll in 2007 and 15% in 2008. The roster is a mix of nationals and locals, with El Fenix restaurant marking more than 40 years in the center.

Hefner says the hard chase for the retail space was due in part to the center’s historic nature, the intersection’s 75,000-vehicle daily count and high barriers to entry with no sizable developable tract in the White Rock Lake neighborhood. “Location-ally, it’s a class A. Demographically it’s become class A,” Hefner says. “In terms of physical condition, it’s a class B that we will make a class A.”

The REIT most often is a long-term holder, with a seven-year holding period on average. “What we can accomplish with our renovation will in turn determine our holding period,” Hefner says.

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