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BROWNSVILLE, TX-Weingarten Realty Investors and local partner M&J Development Co. have sold 14.4 acres of a 44-acre plot to Lowe’s Cos. Inc. The home improvement company will build a 117,000-sf store, becoming the first anchor tenant for the 329,901-sf North Towne Plaza.

Eric Strauss, regional director of development with Houston-based Weingarten, says the joint venture will begin site work in the spring on the project’s remaining 30 acres at the intersection of US Hwy. 77 and FM 802. He says development at 11 N. Towne Plaza has an all-in price tag of about $34 million, excluding Lowe’s project. A ground-breaking date for Lowe’s hasn’t been set, but completion is estimated for 2010.

Strauss tells GlobeSt.com that the North Towne Plaza development has been in the planning stages since late 2006, with the site being assembled from different sources. “The overall site is an assemblage of five parcels,” he says, adding it took about a year to pull everything together. “Some of the property was raw land and some had existing improvements that needed redevelopment for this new project.”

Strauss says North Towne Plaza’s development will include pad sites, which could be sold or offered for ground lease. He says Weingarten is in negotiation with owners and franchisees of several sit-down restaurants and fast-food eateries for the sites.

North Towne Plaza will sit across from Sunshine Mall and southwest of Sunrise Commons, the city’s largest power center. In addition to targeting Brownsville, the joint venture expects to attract shoppers from Matamoros, Mexico.

Height Venture Architects LLP of Houston is designing the center, excluding the Lowe’s store. The general contractor has not been selected.

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