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HOUSTON-The Retail Connection LP has landed the first of several anchors for a 400,000-sf development in Fort Bend County. The 43-acre Grand Corners will be the first project in Greater Houston for the Dallas-based firm’s development affiliate.

Bed, Bath & Beyond has reserved 35,000 sf with a long-term lease for the project, which will go up at the intersection of Grand Parkway and Westpark Tollway. David E. Kayle, senior vice president in Houston for Connected Development Services LLC, tells GlobeSt.com that the size of the first phase has yet to be determined, but it’s expected to be about 200,000 sf. Based on preleasing momentum, he says he’s optimistic ground will break on phase one in the fourth quarter to set the stage for a 2009 grand opening.

Kayle says interviews have started with architects. Meanwhile, the leasing team is gaining traction, with several “major anchors raising their hands” for a spot in Grand Corners, according to Kayle. He says the space is being quoted $12 per sf to $13 per sf for anchor space and up to $28 per sf for inline and specialty tenants.

Although many retailers are pulling back from expansion due to the economy, Kayle says that doesn’t seem to be the case in Fort Bend County. “The whole area is a great growth area,” he explains. “Some of the retailers out there are doing their best sales in the market in that area.”

Adding to the appeal is that Fort Bend County has an extremely active residential market, consisting of several under-construction or just-completed master-planned communities. H-E-B has opened a store at Grand Parkway and Fry Road, just to the north of Grand Corners’ development site and construction has begun on a nearby Wal-Mart Supercenter, going up just to the south along Grand Parkway.

Kayle says Connected Development is looking for additional sites in the market and has been since it launched the Houston team about one year ago. “Since we’re a tenant representative company, the tenants drive our deals,” he says. “They tell us where they’d like to be. We’ll build where they want to go.”

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