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EDINBURG, TX-First Hartford Realty Corp. is ready to begin its second Texas project, the 1.1 million-sf Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley. The 130-acre open-air center has an all-in development cost of $80 million.

The developer already has J.C. Penney Co. Inc. as its lead anchor with 104,000 sf. The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley will be comprised of a 455,000-sf lifestyle center and an adjacent 700,000-sf power center. First Hartford acquired the land at Texas 281 and Trenton Road in 2005–and waited for the right time to begin development.

“With the signing of J.C. Penney and interest from other realtors, we felt confident that there was a reason and enough interest from both national and regional players to begin this project,” says Peter Higgins, VP of the Hartford, CT-based developer. The plan is to begin construction in June, with fall 2008 penciled for the official opening.

Higgins tells GlobeSt.com that there are several letters of intent circulating with interested tenants and more to come, particularly given the city’s proximity to the Mexican border. “The local and regional customer base is, I think, looking for this type of center, and access is terrific off 281,” he continues, adding the project is expected to draw plenty of traffic from both sides of the border.

Higgins points out that Edinburg and nearby McAllen are recognized medical hubs for the region. Edinburg Regional Medical Center and Edinburg Children’s Hospital, among others, are situated close to the Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley’s development site.

First Hartford Realty is the general contractor and is preleasing the development. Lease rates are not available. KA Inc. of Cleveland is the project architect.

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