Real Estate Center Online News

March 27, 2012

Pharr Reel: Hollywood Coming to Valley

PHARR (The Monitor) – Rio Grande Valley residents must really like movies. Or at least that's what two theater companies must think. How else to explain two announcements for two different theaters in Pharr within just the last week?

Cinemark announced plans last week to build a new 16-screen, all-digital theater. It will be part of the redeveloped El Centro Mall, renamed Pharr Town Center.

Meanwhile, The Monitor reported yesterday that leaders of LOOK Cinemas are planning to bring an IMAX theater.

LOOK plans to finalize a development agreement with the city within the next two weeks for a 12-screen complex that will include an IMAX theater and four theaters with full-service bars and restaurants, said founder Tom Stephenson.
Preliminary concept sketches for the nearly 64,000-sf space show a 460-seat IMAX with a screen six stories tall.

February Home Sales Reflect Stronger Market, Improved Economy

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – Existing home sales across the state surged in February, reflecting a stronger market, an improving economy and “better weather than February last year,” said Real Estate Center Research Economist Dr. Jim Gaines.

“In some cases, the increased sales occurred within the lower-priced home market as mortgage lending requirements have improved,” Gaines said.

Sales in Texas last month were up 21 percent over February 2011, according to Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data compiled by the Center. The National Association of Realtors reported an 8.8 percent year-over-year jump in sales.

Median prices continued to be flat across the state as a whole, but they exhibited wide variation among individual markets, with some markets showing significant surges and others further declines.

“Median price in the four major markets (Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio) were essentially flat, with more significant changes occurring in the smaller markets where large percentage changes can occur more easily,” Gaines said.

Drought Dried $7.62 Billion from Texas Economy

COLLEGE STATION (AgriLife Today) – Agricultural losses in Texas from the 2011 drought totaled $7.62 billion, setting a record for the costliest drought in history, according to economists from Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

Record-high temperatures, coupled with record-low precipitation and high winds, devastated production. Water supplies dwindled, thwarting production of hay and other crops, as well as inciting large sales of livestock.

Texas' biggest category loss was livestock ($3.23 billion), followed by cotton ($2.2 billion), lost hay production ($750 million) and corn ($736 million).

The deficit from the 2011 drought is higher than the $5.2 billion in losses previously reported.

AgriLife Extension economists have recorded losses from droughts six times since 2000. The previous record was set in 2006, with $4.1 billion in losses.

Auto Parts Distributor Brakes for Arlington

ARLINGTON ( – Auto Parts Distribution International LLC (ADPI) signed a lease for 310,000 sf at Pioneer 360 Business Center in Arlington.

The auto parts wholesaler will move into its new location in May at the 1.2 million-sf industrial park at 2900 E. Pioneer Pkwy.

NAI Robert Lynn represented ADPI in the lease agreement, with Stream Realty Partners representing the landlord, Clarion Partners.

New Home Sales Down Nationally

WASHINGTON (Austin American-Statesman) – New home sales declined in February for the second month in a row, based on data from the Commerce Department.

Nationally, new home sales dropped 1.6 percent to about 313,000 homes, less than half the pace economists consider to be characteristic of a healthy market.

Despite the recent decline, however, December 2011 sales figures were the best in a year. The median sales price for new homes, $233,700, is also at its highest since June.

Unlike the market for new homes, sales of existing homes are up more than 13 percent since July, with the last two months being the best in five years.

Texas Cities Magnet for Relocation

HOUSTON (Houston Business Journal) – Texas cities are still the destination of choice for those relocating, according to U-Haul International Inc.

Houston took the top spot on U-Haul’s list of destination cities for relocation in 2011. San Antonio also attracted many new residents from other cities, ranking at number five, followed by Austin at number six. Other Texas cities in the top 50 include Dallas (15), Plano (35) and Fort Worth (44).

Rounding out the top five were Orlando, Fla., at number two, followed by Las Vegas (three) and Chicago (four).

U-Haul considers data for movers traveling more than 50 miles using its trucks.

Norchester's New Owner, Upgrade

HOUSTON ( – Wingfield Partners has taken a distressed Houston shopping under its, well, wing.

The investment entity purchased the 107,200-sf Norchester Village shopping center at 13300-13350 Jones Rd. from Weingarten Realty.

Flagship Capital Partners I LP provided $4.9 million for acquisition and upgrade of the retail center, which was built in the early 1980s and renovated in 2005.

Flagship Capital Partners I is a joint venture between Flagship Properties Corp. and Hines Global REIT.

Federal Funding for Safer Housing

WASHINGTON (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded a $3 million grant to the City of Fort Worth to help fund activities intended to protect families against home health hazards, including lead-based paint.

The money is just a chunk of a larger amount — $110.8 million total — that was awarded to 43 projects around the country to help clean up lead and other health hazards in nearly 6,000 high-risk homes, train workers in lead safety methods, and increase public awareness about childhood lead poisoning.

Fort Worth was the only Texas city to receive funds, according to a HUD press release.

News at Five

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – If you're in the mood for more Texas real esate news, check out NewsTalk Texas, our online news database. This week's stories include:

NewsTalk Texas is updated each weekday throughout the day.

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