More than five years’ worth of strategic land sales and leases in Aliana, a 2,000-acre master-planned community in southwest Houston, preceded NewQuest’s purchase of 57.2 acres in the community for a high-end retail development.
JLL’s Simmi Jaggi and Elizabeth Clampitt were brought on by Aliana Development Co. around six years ago to transform the community into a self-sufficient hub with plenty of retail to cater to Aliana’s rooftops. From the start, Jaggi and Clampitt said their strategy involved bringing storefronts from Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) and H-E-B to Aliana. From there, other major retailers and developers would follow.
“We were very clear on that goal,” Jaggi said.
But getting the attention of Target’s and H-E-B’s real estate consultants is no easy feat. Jaggi and Clampitt started working on Aliana around 2011, when just 300 homes had sold in the community. The pair closed their first land deal in 2012. A daycare franchise developer bought the land.
Then Jaggi and Clampitt sold land to CVS (NYSE: CVS). A developer of a retail-medical building came next. Slowly but surely, the Aliana community continue to branch out. Eventually, in 2015, H-E-B bought 15 acres from Aliana Development Co. for a 102,000-square-foot store that opened in November 2016.
While these deals were closing, Jaggi and Clampitt were pitching to Target’s executives. It took five pitches to land the 124,000-square-foot Target store that opened in Aliana in early November 2017. Among other places, the pair would pitch to Target at International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual conferences.
“They would look at us and smile,” Jaggi said of Target’s representatives. “They wouldn’t say yes, … but they wouldn’t say no.”
The persistence paid off. The 124,000-square-foot Target store that would eventually open in Aliana is the first in the retailer’s new line of “reimagined, next-generation” stores that feature a modern redesign, new departments and more. Today, roughly 2,800 homes have sold in Aliana, and NewQuest’s new retail development is set to cater to the 4,000 homes that’ll eventually make up the community.
Although NewQuest’s project is still in the early pre-leasing stages, it should bring several more nationally recognized tenants to Aliana. The development, dubbed The Grand at Aliana, will eventually offer 500,000 square feet of “heavily anchored” retail, said NewQuest’s Josh Friedlander.
“We’re in talks with multiple anchors that have strong interest,” Friedlander said. The center will include several full-service restaurants, fast-casual restaurants and users in the entertainment, medical, fitness and soft goods spaces.
Friedlander is pre-leasing the property alongside David Meyers, who serves as director of leasing at NewQuest. The Grand at Aliana should break ground in late 2018, and its first phase will deliver in mid-2019. A firm construction timeline for the entire project hasn’t been established, Friedlander said. The project will sit on the corner of the Grand Parkway and Airport Boulevard.
Though the center is still in the early design stages, it’ll likely include more green space, less concrete and more communal gathering spaces than your traditional power center, said Travis Stone, president of Aliana Development Co.
“We’re not looking for anybody to really do concrete-to-concrete,” Stone said. “We wanted something a little more special than just a large retail power center.”
The 2,000-acre Aliana ranked No. 19 on RCLCO’s January 2017 list of top-selling master-planned communities nationwide and No. 24 on RCLCO’s midyear 2017 list. There were 426 homes sold in Aliana in 2016, down 4 percent from 2015, and 231 sold by midyear 2017, down 5 percent.
Full story: Houston Business Journal