By AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF Published: 8:23 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 Small Type
By AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Published: 8:23 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 Small Type
Star Furniture plans to move this fall into a new 77,000-square-foot showroom in the Lakes@TechRidge shopping center near Interstate 35 and Howard Lane in North Austin.
The Houston-based furniture retailer will leave its location in the Gateway Square shopping center in the Arboretum area when the new showroom opens in October or November.
Star Furniture will help anchor the second phase of the $150 million Lakes@TechRidge project, which ultimately is expected to have 1.1 million square feet of commercial space and up to 1,000 apartments, 350 of which are already built in an existing complex within the project.
Star Furniture is a regional chain whose 11 Texas stores sell brands including Broyhill, Howard Miller, Natuzzi and Thomasville.
Bill Kimbrell, Star Furniture's chief executive officer, said the new location "has better visibility, accessibility and enables us to build a custom, free-standing showroom."
Although not much larger than its current showroom, the new space will be more efficient, allowing for a bigger design gallery, bedding department and rug gallery, Kimbrell said.
"We've been successful in the Austin market and believe there's more growth potential with a new showroom at this new location," Kimbrell said.
Kimbrell, a former Rhodes Furniture executive, took the helm at Star Furniture in 2004, replacing chairman Melvyn "Mel" Lee Wolff, who headed the company for 42 years. Star Furniture, founded in 1912, was bought by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway in 1997.
The new showroom will be on five acres of the Lakes@TechRidge, which TechRidge Spectrum purchased in 2006. TechRidge Spectrum is a partnership of Kelly Capital Group Inc. and Ledcor Properties, based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Ken Satterlee, general partner of TechRidge Spectrum, said Star Furniture "is one of the few retailers in an expansion mode right now, which speaks very well of their business operations."
Ian Asselstine, vice president of Ledcor Properties, said Star Furniture is a "high-quality, well-respected" operation that will "serve as a magnet for other retailers."
Gateway is expected to lose another key tenant with Whole Foods Market Inc.'s planned move to a mixed-use project that Endeavor Real Estate Group is developing in North Austin. Endeavor's Domain project is adjacent to the Simon Property Group mixed-use development of the same name.
However, Endeavor is postponing the retail phase of its project until the economy, the capital markets and the retailing climate improve. An Endeavor principal has said it could be late 2012 or early 2013 before work starts on the Whole Foods store.
Les Morris, a Simon spokesman, declined to discuss tenant prospects for the Star Furniture space.
However, Morris said in an e-mail that "our goal, as always, will be to retenant the space in a way that's even more attractive for our Gateway shoppers."
Star Furniture was represented by Steve Durhman with Durhman & Bassett Realty Group Inc. TechRidge Spectrum was represented by Eric DeJernett at CB Richard Ellis Inc.
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