HOUSTON-More than six months following its split from Hartman Management LP, Hartman Commercial Properties REIT has changed its name to Whitestone REIT. The name change coincides with a shift in the company’s focus, which will be on property acquisitions outside Greater Houston.

“We’re looking beyond Houston and Texas,” explains James C. Mastandrea, who was named the HCP REIT’s chairman and interim CEO after the split from the management company in October 2006. “The name change gives us an opportunity to gain more of a national reputation and the timing was right to do it.” The name change is effective immediately, with full re-branding expected to be in place by the end of summer.

Mastandrea tells GlobeSt.com that the company is looking for value-add office, retail and warehouse properties in markets similar to Houston. The preferred size is 50,000 sf to 200,000 sf. He says Whitestone will look at all-cash purchases, leveraged opportunities and joint ventures.

Mastandrea says the value-add factor can mean upping a class C building to class B status, finishing an incomplete class A building or developing a piece of property adjacent to an existing structure. “We already have a fairly substantial pipeline and regional contacts in two marketplaces,” he says. “We’re close on some of the properties we’d like to make offers on.”

On the other side of the coin, Mastandrea says Whitestone will be selling part of its current portfolio, which includes 2600 S. Gessner Rd., within the next 12 months. The plan is to hang on to value-add projects for the foreseeable future. “We have a little more than three million total sf” he says, “and we sell about 15% of that.”

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