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23 posts from January 2013

01/15/2013

Hulen Fashion Center sold to Dallas-based investment group

Investors with ties to the Village at Camp Bowie in Fort Worth have now acquired the Hulen Fashion Center in southwest Fort Worth.

Venture Hulen LP has taken out a $7.1 million note with Bank of Texas, according to deed records.

Venture Hulen is an entity of VHGP, Llc., whose manager is Woodrow Brownlee, the deed shows. Brownlee is an investor with Trophy Investments, which in 2004 bought the former 6333 Camp Bowie center. That shopping center is in bankruptcy.

Hulen Fashion Center is a 181,099-square-foot center at 5200 S. Hulen St., just south of Hulen Mall. The center is 89 percent leased. It’s newest tenant is Total Wine & More.

HFF in Dallas said it arranged the first lien financing for Venture Hulen. The investment group was represented by Bryan Cornelius, Easley Waggoner and John Zikos with Venture Commercial. Brandon Beeson of EDGE Realty Partners represented the seller, US Bank National Association.

Sandra Baker

01/14/2013

Texas Health, Blue Cross team up for ACO

Arlington-based Texas Health Resources, which says it admits more patients than any hospital system in North Texas, has teamed with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas for what the organizations call the the area's largest Accountable Care Organization. Unlike most ACOs, which are creations of the Affordable Care Act and apply only to the federal Medicare program, the THR-BCBS effort is aimed at commercial members. Ron Long,  chief financial officer of THR, said the new ACO is expected to have about 50,000 participants when it starts and to grow significantly. He said THR will approach other insurers to create similar but separate ACOs with them.

"Texas Health has been advancing the concept of putting more emphasis on keeping people healthy and out of the hospital and developing new programs like this ACO to help employers keep their employees healthy," said Texas Health Resources CEO Doug Hawthorne. Bert Marshall, president of BCBS Texas, said the ACO is an extension of the insurer's other initiatives "designed to reward physicians for managing costs and quality of whole  patient care and moving from the traditional fee-for-service approach to a fee-for-value payment model." Texas Health's 25 hospitals and 18 outpatient facilities are already part of BCBS Texas' provider network. The ACO will cover 12 North Texas counties, including Tarrant and Dallas.

-- Jim Fuquay

 

Texas electric supply questioned by national reliability group

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. has jumped into the debate about whether Texas has enough electricity capacity to meet rising demand. The issue has already prompted a move by the Public Utility Commission to raise wholesale power price caps to encourage generators to add capacity and thus increase the "reserve margin," or excess of supply over estimated demand. NERC, an industry group that sets reliability standards in the U.S., told the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in a Jan. 7 letter that it's worried about risks to the state's largest power grid. In the letter, addressed to ERCOT CEO Trip Doggett, NERC President Gerry Cauley says his organization's estimates for Texas "imply higher reliability risks" and asks that ERCOT tell NERC by April 30 what it's doing "to address the declining reserve margin and projected capacity shortfall."

Doggett issued a statement today that said, in part: "We take this issue very seriously, and the staff and board of ERCOT consider electric reliability and future resource adequacy our top priorities. ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) recognize our critical role in ensuring the lights stay on in a variety of conditions." 

Unstated by either organization is the debate over whether Texas should pay generators for providing enough capacity to ensure a reasonable reserve margin, currently set by ERCOT at 13.75 percent. In Texas' deregulated market, generators earn revenue only when they sell power, a model called an "energy-only" market; a policy of paying generators to maintain more capacity is called a "capacity market." Some think capacity payments would assure a certain reserve margin, while others see them as a subsidy to generators, who have struggled to make money in Texas, where wholesale electricity prices have been very low in recent years.

In a blog post today on the topic, Colin Meehan of the Texas office of the Environmental Defense Fund whote that: "No one could accuse ERCOT or the PUC of sitting idly by or pretending this risk isn't real. However, they have yet to send a strong enough signal to the market to spur investors in demand response or any other resources to develop new projects." Paul Ring, who operates the Energy Choice Matters website and is an outspoken critic of capacity markets, said in his own post today that "these 'reliability' concerns are simply manufactured." He points out that NERC doesn't have the authority to tell ERCOT how to run the Texas grid. "NERC is inserting itself in a policy debate about resource adequacy -- one clearly outside of its intended mission as well as its specifically enumerated powers," Ring says.

-- Jim Fuquay

01/11/2013

Majority stake in the Arlington Highlands sold to Boston-led equity group

The developers of the highly popular Arlington Highlands shopping center has sold a majority ownership stake in the center to a partnership led by Boston-based AEW Capital Management, a real estate investment management firm, and Chicago-based M&J Wilkow real estate company.

The new owners said they provided joint venture equity, assumed the existing debt and formed a new partnership with the developers and existing owners, The Retail Connection and Cheney Mathes Properties. AEW and M&J Wilkow become majority stakeholders and The Retail Connection and Cheney Mathes become minority stakeholders in the 80-acre shopping center.

Arlington Highlands, a nearly 750,000-square-foot town center style shopping center, opened in 2006 and was largely completed in 2007. Today, it has more than 75 tenants and is said to be about 95 percent leased. It’s located on the north side of Interstate 20 and east of Matlock Road in south Arlington, land once owned by the Mathes family.

The deal closed in late December. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"We are pleased to be a major stakeholder and partner in this exceptional project, which has a diverse base of high-quality national tenants, a carefully crafted site plan, high-quality construction, and is a family-oriented center with a true sense of place," said George Fryer, an AEW director, in a statement. "The recapitalization will allow the ownership to continue to enhance the existing shopping center and provide additional capital for future improvements."

_ Sandra Baker

 

01/10/2013

Electricity use in most of Texas declined in 2012

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which serves about 85 percent of the state's demand, said Thursday that total electricity use across its system fell 2.7 percent last year compared to 2011, the state's hottest year on record. In 2011, ERCOT's electricity demand jumped nearly 5 percent. Those figures compare to average annual growth of about 2 percent in recent years, ERCOT said. ERCOT said it saw decreases in six months last year.

Natural gas widened its lead over coal as the No. 1 fuel for electricity generation, accounting for 44.6 percent of  the power provided. That's nearly 11 percentage points more than coal's 33.8 percent, and compared to a difference of just 1.4 percentage points in 2011 and a second-place ranking behind coal in 2010. Nuclear held steady at 11.8 percent of power provided in 2012, following by wind at 9.2 percent, hydroelectric at 0.1 percent and other fuels at 0.5 percent.

Nationally, electricity demand has been sagging in recent years, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report. It reported that "electricity production in the U.S. fell in 2008 and 2009, amid the recession, then ticked up slightly in 2010 before falling again in 2011."

01/09/2013

Shareholder urges Cash America to buy shares, spin off unit

SAF Value Fund, which said it has acquired a minority stake in Fort Worth-based Cash America, called for the lender to boost its share repurchases and spin off its Enova International online lending subsidiary. It could not immediately be determined how many shares of Cash America SAF holds, but it has not filed a disclosure with regulators. Cash America, the nation's largest operator of pawn shops, in 2011 said it planned to spin off a majority of Enova, but in July 2012 it said it "has determined not to proceed with the public offering." The company had originally estimated it could raise up to $500 million with the sale. In its third-quarter conference call with financial analysts, Cash America said it had bought 380,000 shares worth about $15 million in 2012, mostly in the third quarter.

SAF said it seeks a spin-off "to not only maximize shareholder value, but also to mitigate potential regulatory exposure stemming from the company's short-term single-payment lending activities." Cash America is a major maker of so-called payday loans, which have faced new restrictions in several states. SAF said the company's shares are undervalued and the moves would allow shareholders to reap the separate value of Enova. SAF and company representatives did not immediately return requests for comment.

-- Jim Fuquay

 

01/08/2013

North Texas existing home sales rise 16 percent in 2012, report finds

Existing home sales in North Texas finished 2012 16 percent ahead of sales in 2011, the first increase in three years, the latest Real Estate Center report shows.

In all, 75,207 homes were sold in the 29-county North Texas area last year. The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University compiles data from real estate listing services.

The median sales price in 2012 was $157,780, an 8 percent jump from 2011, the report said.

In December, existing home sales reached 5,658, a 10 percent increase from December 2011.

Existing home sales in 2011 were flat from 2010, and in 2010, sales were down 7 percent from 2009.

The report comes one day after two real estate research firms reported year-end increases of 21 percent and 28 percent in the number of new home construction starts for 2012.

_ Sandra Baker

HCA to add general hospital to Alliance operations

HCA North Texas, which opened a free-standing emergency department in the Alliance area a year ago, now plans to add a $71 million hospital at the site. It said the 142,000-square-foot facility, set to open in late  2014, will add surgery, imaging, labor and delivery services, an intensive care unit and other support functions. The four-story hospital will be able to accommodate two additional floors in the future, said Randy Moresi, CEO of HCA's North Hills Hospital, which built the earlier emergency facility. HCA, the nation's largest for-profit hospital operator, said it expects to break ground this summer.

Besides the existing North Hills emergency department, Texas Health Resources last fall opened its Alliance hospital, north of the HCA site, land Wise Regional Health System broke ground in December on its Parkway Surgical and Cardiovascular Hospital, a specialty surgery facility expected to open in about a year. The 29,000-square-foot facility is in the 3000 block of North Tarrant Parkway in north Fort Worth, near HCA's project. A separate company, Office Equity Solutions, plans a 20,000-square-foot medical office building adjacent to the hospital.

-- Jim Fuquay

Six Flags to host job fair at theme park this weekend

It’s time to start thinking about a summer job at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington.

The theme park said it want to hire about 1,000 employees for the 2013 season and will begin with a job fair Saturday and Sunday at the park.

A second fair will be held Jan. 19-21.

Six Flags said it is seeking qualified, enthusiastic and friendly candidates who can provide excellent service to guests. There are a variety of job opportunities available for those interested in learning more about the theme park and hospitality industry including: games, rides, retail, food services, admissions, entertainment, guest relations, marketing research and security.

Interested applicants should first go to www.sixflagsjobs.com and fill out an application prior to attending the job fair.

Wage earnings for positions vary, based upon experience, and start between $7.25-$9.00.

Interviews for this year’s job fair will begin at 10 a.m. each day.

_ Sandra Baker

01/07/2013

Lewisville-based Nationstar buys mortgage servicing rights from Bank of America

Nationstar Mortgage Holdings, which started out as the mortgage operation for Dallas-based Centex Homes, will buy $215 billion in mortgage servicing rights from Bank of America, which has been slashing its mortgage business in the wake of the financial crisis. It will pay $1.3 billion for the portfolio, which will more than double its customer base to 2.5 million. Mortgage servicers handle the payments on outstanding mortgages, forwarding proceeds to the mortgage holder and dealing with loan delinquencies and foreclosures when necessary. Nationstar, based in Lewisville, says it serviced approximately one million loans with total unpaid principal balances of $198 billion as of Sept. 30. It has about 4,100 employees at facilities around the country, including a call center in Lewisville.

-- Jim Fuquay

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