HOUSTON, April 4, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Whitestone REIT (NYSE Amex:WSR) ("Whitestone"), a fully integrated real estate company that owns, operates and re-develops Community Centered PropertiesTM, which are visibly located properties in established or developing culturally diverse neighborhoods, announced that The BICE Group has signed a lease for 9,910 square feet of space for a new upscale restaurant location at The Citadel in Scottsdale, Arizona.
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The lease will initiate Whitestone REIT's redevelopment plan to bring back the community ambiance of the Center that has prevailed since The Citadel was developed as a picturesque and romantic inn and, over the years, in the way it was then operated as an upscale mixed-use commercial property. Additional small space tenants complement the new restaurant, with a limited number of available spaces ranging from 470 to 1,750 square feet. The transformation plan of the 28,545 Community Center includes plans to add new office and retail specialty service tenants who understand the local community needs. When the tenant improvements are completed and BICE begins operating, occupancy at The Citadel will increase from its current level of 21% to 56%.
The north Scottsdale location, at a prime hard corner intersection of Pima Road and Pinnacle Peak, is in proximity to many high end residential developments, including DC Ranch, Estancia and Troon North. The site is easily accessed with new road construction that has expanded and enhanced the intersection directly in front of The Citadel.
The BICE Group is renowned for its BICE branded Italian "Ristorantes" all over the world, with 25 locations in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East -- in exotic cities such as Milan, New York, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Dubai, Johannesburg and more. While the firm is keeping the theme for this Scottsdale location "under wraps," owner Roberto Ruggeri intends to "bring back the romance" to The Citadel with his vision for a chic/trendy eatery where the BICE signature fare will be served.
"I have always been under the impression that Scottsdale was the 'Beverly Hills' of Arizona!" said Roberto Ruggeri, Chairman of The BICE Group. "We are thrilled with the opportunity to open our Ristarante in such a great location, and we want to bring to The Citadel our Italian Cuisine, now more modern since we have learned flavors from countries worldwide where BICE is present."
"Whitestone's leasing approach is to design the tenant mix to meet the needs and desires of the surrounding community. BICE fits perfectly within our business model and our plan to redevelop The Citadel into a destination Community Center servicing the northern Scottsdale community," said James C. Mastandrea, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Whitestone. "When we acquired The Citadel less than eight months ago, we had in mind a restaurant of the quality and scale of BICE to be appropriate in meeting the demands of this stylish local area. We look forward to the opening of BICE and bringing activity back to The Citadel."
About Whitestone REIT
Whitestone REIT (NYSE Amex:WSR) is a fully integrated real estate company that owns, operates and re-develops Community Centered PropertiesTM, which are visibly located properties in established or developing culturally diverse neighborhoods. Whitestone focuses on value-creation in its Centers, as it markets, leases and manages its Centers to match tenants with the shared needs of surrounding neighborhoods. Operations are structured for providing cost-effective service to local service-oriented smaller space tenants (less than 3,000 square feet). Whitestone has a diversified tenant base concentrated on service offerings including medical, education, and casual dining. The largest of its 792 tenants comprise less than 2% of its rental revenues. Headquartered in Houston, Texas and founded in 1998, the Company is internally managed with a portfolio of commercial properties in Texas, Arizona, and Illinois. For additional information about the Company, please visit www.whitestonereit.com . The Investor Relations section of the Company's website has links to SEC filings, news releases, financial reports and investor newsletters.
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About The BICE Group
The network of BICE restaurants spanning the world today began in 1926 in Milan, Italy. With founder Beatrice Ruggeri ("Bice" to her family and friends) in the kitchen and her brothers and sisters serving in the dining room, il Ristorante De Gino e Bice was opened, and later became known as BICE Ristorante. Her sons, Remo and Roberto, took steps to extend her vision throughout the world, opening a second BICE in 1978 in Porto Cervo, on the island of Sardinia, where The Aga Khan had just established a playground of sorts for international socialites, celebrities and other affluent world travelers. Analytical and customer-based research matched the BICE brand of hospitality to open the third BICE restaurant in New York City in 1987 with top reviews from food critics and patrons alike. Today, BICE 's USA operational headquarters is located in Manhattan, near the restaurant. BICE Chicago opened in 1989, followed by BICE Palm Beach and BICE Orlando. Between 1989 and 1996, BICE locations were opened under joint ventures and licensing agreements in Paris, Tokyo, London, Buenos Aires, Singapore, Seoul, Amsterdam, Istanbul and Sao Paulo. Some licensing agreements have expired, but new locations are always opening. BICE is researching future sites in China and India. More information is available on their website: www.bicegroup.com .
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Statements included herein that state the Company's or management's intentions, hopes, beliefs, expectations or predictions of the future are "forward-looking" statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which by their nature, involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties. The Company's actual results, performance or achievements could differ materially from those expressed or implied by these statements. Reference is made to the Company's regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for information or factors that may impact the Company's performance.
CONTACT: Whitestone REIT: Anne Gregory, Vice President Marketing & Investor Relations (713) 435 2221 firstname.lastname@example.org The BICE Group: Roberto Ruggerri, Chairman (212) 688-3282 email@example.com
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