May 28--WEST BRADENTON -- A Georgia company intent on expanding its real estate portfolio throughout the southeastern United States has made its second-largest single commercial property investment by buying a Bradenton strip mall strategically positioned on the way to the beach.
Atlanta-based Branch Properties bought Beachway Plaza on May 16 for $15.05 million from Retail Properties of America Inc., (RPAI) according to Manatee County records. With the purchase, Branch Properties picks up several big anchor tenants, including Publix, Kmart, Beall's Outlet and Staples.
The roughly 120,000-square-foot mall was built in 1981 on about 12 acres at the northeast corner of Manatee Avenue West and 75th Street West. Terry Hampel, an executive vice president with privately owned Branch, said his company has been shopping for grocery-store anchored shopping centers throughout the Southeast. When the company found Beachway Plaza available, it jumped on it.
"We'll see what we can do with it," he said.
Hampel said the center is about 15 percent vacant. That's something Branch Properties is looking to change in its role as owner and manager of the property. He said the company likes to buy properties with space it can "lease up."
The company's largest retail holding is a 136,000-square-foot mall in the Atlanta area, according to its website. In all, Branch owns 26 properties with 17 in the retail sector. Just over $10 million of the Beachway Plaza purchase was funded through a mortgage, according to county records.
Hampel characterized Branch as a long-term property holder, but said "long term" is likely less than 10 years. That would fit with the recent ownership history of the mall. Seller RPAI bought Beachway Plaza in 2005.
Kimberly Freely, a spokeswoman for Oak Brook, Ill.-based RPAI, said her company sold the property to better concentrate its portfolio of 227 retail properties in Texas, the southwest, Chicago, Atlanta, New York and the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area. "As Bradenton is considered a non-core strategic asset outside of our target markets, RPAI has decided to sell and redeploy the proceeds into our target
markets," she said.
RPAI still owns a dozen commercial properties in Florida, including the 319,000-square-foot Page Field Commons in Fort [SoftReturn]Myers.
Overall, the company controls about 31 million square feet of commercial space.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.
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