New York City developer Mark Mascia became interested in the Cincinnati market while visiting family here in recent years.

The Dayton native thought Hyde Park was the perfect place for Mascia Development LLC to make its first acquisition in the single-tenant retail market. Mascia recently purchased the retail space that houses Lululemon Athletica at upscale Michigan Terrace, 3500 Michigan Ave. He purchased the 3,651-square-foot space near Hyde Park Square for $1.05 million.

Mascia said Thursday the steady Hyde Park market and Lululemon being in the first year of a 10-year lease agreement made the property attractive.

“We needed to get our feet wet (in the market), and this was a no-brainer,” Mascia said.

Mascia Development, which has offices in New York City and Rochester, N.Y., is a diversified real estate firm that develops, acquires, owns and manages multi-family, mixed-use retail and student-housing properties in the Northeast. The company has been looking to expand its retail footprint.

“Some developers look at cities like Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and see them as old Rust Belt cities that have lost their major (manufacturing) employers,” Mascia said. “But I think they’re all losing sight of the fact that the major employers have shifted to healthcare and other industries. It’s a way for us to sneak into the market under the radar.”

Mascia paid a premium for the property, when compared to recent sales of other retail-based real estate locally, data show. For example, nearly 12,000 square feet of retail space sold at Harper’s Crossing in Montgomery in the second half of 2011 for $167 a square foot, compared to $287 a square foot for the Michigan Avenue space.

Mascia said he hopes to purchase more retail space in Cincinnati. He also considered purchasing currently empty retail space at Michigan Terrace, the six-story, 57,500-square-foot mixed-use development. But Mascia decided not to pursue it because of the potential challenge of filling the space.

“This was a very simple, straight-forward transaction,” Mascia said.

Michigan Terrace’s 15 luxury condominiums sold out soon after Al. Neyer Inc. and Lantrust Real Estate Group completed the development in 2007. But filling the 7,000 square feet of first-floor retail space has been a challenge.

Starbucks was to move in, but the coffee company’s green sign was taken down after several months in 2007. Lululemon Athletica, the upscale yoga and athletic apparel retailer, moved from the 3400 block of Michigan Avenue to Michigan Terrace last October.

Mascia, 31, and his family moved from Dayton to the Northeast when he was in elementary school. He still has family members in Greater Cincinnati and visits them at least once a year.