March 30 , 2007

Retail Connection to expand into Houston

Retail Connection to expand into Houston

March 30th, 2007 - Dallas Business Journal

Dallas-based real estate company The Retail Connection LP will open a Houston office next month with real estate veteran David Stukalin leading the new team.

The Houston office will be in the Galleria area. It will be the third office for the fast-growing firm, which also has a San Antonio location.

The company represents tenants, develops and leases projects, and offers advisory and other services, focusing exclusively on retail real estate.

Stukalin resigned March 26 as president of the Houston office of The Weitzman Group to join The Retail Connection.

He plans to start in early April as an executive vice president and partner, he said.

Stukalin was The Weitzman Group's top producer statewide in 2005 and 2006.

He represents high-profile retailers including JPMorgan Chase Bank, J.C. Penney, Ace Hardware, LA Fitness and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Strong job growth and Houston's relatively low cost of living and housing create the right conditions for retailers to expand, he said.

Builders plan about 45,000 new homes in the Houston area this year, and the population is projected to reach 6 million within five years, Stukalin said.

"We know retail follows rooftops," he said. "We're extremely bullish on Houston. These are exciting times."

The Houston market is similar to Dallas-Fort Worth, The Retail Connection CEO Steve Lieberman said.

The company represents tenants with stores or restaurants in both markets, providing it with natural opportunities to expand, he said.

Market linkage

"They are very synergistic markets," Lieberman said. "There's a lot of linkage between Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston."

The Dallas-Fort Worth area has about 154 million square feet of retail gross leasable area while Houston has about 135 million square feet.

Last year, developers added 3.6 million square feet of retail space in Houston, compared with 7.3 million square feet in D-FW.

Retail growth is expected to remain strong in both markets this year, Lieberman said.

Lieberman, former president of Dallas-based The Weitzman Group, a real estate consulting firm, launched The Retail Connection in January 2004 with company President Alan Shor. Shor is former president and chief operating officer of Irving-based Zale Corp.

The Retail Connection has grown to 55 employees in Dallas. | 214-706-7125