HOUSTON-Less than a year after its acrimonious split from Hartman Management LP, Whitestone REIT will close on its first acquisition by year’s end. Despite ongoing legal disputes related to the split, Whitestone is gearing up to buy new assets and renovate properties already under its control.

Whitestone’s chairman and CEO Jim Mastandrea says the REIT plans to close additional deals in early 2008 in business-friendly states. “We’re looking at office, retail and warehouse, and our initial assets will be individual assets, to start with,” he says, adding there are “one or two” assets under contract and another one or two properties lined up for development. “That’ll start seeding our work for 2008,” he says.

Also on the drawing board is redevelopment and overhauls of properties that the REIT inherited late last year when it split from Hartman Management. Mastandrea tells GlobeSt.com that the REIT has spent several months identifying issues with certain assets and determining how to correct the problems. He says the cap-ex budget will be significant. “We’ve identified about 11 properties to upgrade and plan to invest money in them,” he says, adding that more specific information will come out in the fall. He didn’t specify if the plan will target its class B headquarters building, Woodlake at 2600 S. Gessner Rd. in Westchase.

To move REIT’s plan forward, several staff members have received promotions. CFO David K. Holeman also assumes a vice president’s title. Other changes are Valarie King, who becomes senior vice president of property management; Samuel Demissie, vice president of acquisitions and asset management; Richard A. Vaughan, vice president of marketing and investor relations; Theodore R. Zeck, vice president of information systems; Priscilla Gonzalez, administration officer and office manager; J.R. O’Brien, senior counsel; and Roger Nasiff, vice president of construction.

Mastandrea says the promotions were awarded for several reasons, but specifically to recognize their individual achievements. “The people have been in these positions, serving in them, and in a public company this size, they need to carry leadership titles,” he says.

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