HOUSTON, Oct. 6, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Whitestone REIT (NYSE:WSR) ("Whitestone"), a fully integrated real estate company that owns, operates and re-develops Community Centered PropertiesTM, is pleased to announce the signing of a lease with Crown Seafood for a 9,700 square foot, upscale Asian restaurant scheduled to open late 2014 at Whitestone's Lion Square property in Southwest Houston. The addition of Crown Seafood brings the redevelopment of the Lion Square property near completion, and will increase occupancy of the center from 77% to 85%.
Lion Square is located in the heart of the Asian district, along with Hong Kong Mall Viet Hoa International Market, Sun's Club, and other top Asian destinations. Also located in the Houston's International Management District (IMD), Lion Square benefits from an estimated 250,000 daytime employees that work for companies including Halliburton, National Oilwell Varco, Jacobs Engineering Group and the International Trade Center. In addition Lion Square is benefiting by the City of Houston's significant investments in infrastructure in the surrounding area.
Whitestone redeveloped Lion Square to include new architectural and landscaping features that transformed its dated American strip center design to one influenced by Asian architecture, with features to enhance the international focused culture of the center and redefine Lion Square as a destination within the IMD. In 2011, Lion Square welcomed new anchor tenant, Teletron, a Vietnamese-owned electronics store, when Whitestone began its redevelopment of the property. Adding Crown Seafood solidifies the repositioning and redevelopment program. Crown Seafood will join other tenants at Lion Square including Teletron, Ten Ren Tea, Merryland Bakery, and Quan Yin Vegetarian Restaurant.
Lion Square's redevelopment and repositioning was successful in part with Whitestone's relationship with C.C. Lee and STOA International Architects. Lee, renowned feng shui consultant and CEO of STOA International Architects, assisted in repositioning Lion Square to promote the "flow of energy" and attract business to the current tenants.
James C. Mastandrea, Whitestone's Chairman and CEO, said, "Whitestone transformed Lion Square from a vacant grocery anchor center legacy property to a busy Community Centered Property to meet the needs of the 400,000 Asian residents in Houston. The redevelopment capitalized on the center's premier location in the heart of the Asian community. Consistent with our value-add business model, we repositioned the property, breaking up the vacant big box into smaller spaces to optimize the tenant mix with retailers and service based tenants." Mastandrea added, "Working with C.C. Lee and STOA has allowed us to remain committed to the Whitestone REIT business model of increasing occupancy and identifying value-add opportunities within our portfolio, while using experts to provide advice and guidance on cultural preferences, needs, and standards to attract the tenants which best serve the needs of the community." Mastandrea concluded, "The resulting transformed Lion Square will add significant sales to our tenants, real estate tax revenues for the International Management District, and net operating income and added value per share to Whitestone's shareholders."
About Whitestone REIT
Whitestone REIT (NYSE:WSR) is a fully integrated real estate investment trust ("REIT") that owns, operates and redevelops Community Centered PropertiesTM. Whitestone focuses on value creation in its community centers, concentrating on local service-oriented tenants that comprise approximately 70% of its tenants. Whitestone's diversified tenant base provides service offerings including medical, education, casual dining, and convenience services. The largest of its 1,232 tenants comprised less than 1.9% of its annualized base rental revenues as of June 30, 2014. Founded in 1998, the Company is internally managed with a portfolio of 62 commercial properties in Texas, Arizona, and Illinois. For additional information about the Company, please visit www.whitestonereit.com.
CONTACT: Whitestone REIT: Robin Oloyede - Director of Marketing (713) 435-2256 ROloyede@WhitestoneREIT.com