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Published: Friday, 7/1/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

PRIVATE EQUITY FUND PURCHASE

6 Toledo-area shopping centers among 585 nationwide to sell for $9B

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Starlite Plaza at 5700 Monroe St. in Sylvania, built in 1969, is one of the six area retail properties in a  transaction involving 92.1 million square feet of commercial property in 39 states and 600 employees. Starlite Plaza at 5700 Monroe St. in Sylvania, built in 1969, is one of the six area retail properties in a transaction involving 92.1 million square feet of commercial property in 39 states and 600 employees.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: This version corrects the construction date of the Great Eastern Shopping Plaza.

Five aging local shopping centers in metro Toledo and a sixth one in Napoleon are among a package of 585 commercial properties nationwide being sold to a private equity fund for $9 billion dollars.

Miracle Mile and Southland shopping plazas and Alexis Park, all in Toledo, Starlite Plaza in Sylvania, the Great Eastern Shopping Plaza in Northwood, and Napoleon Center in Napoleon are being acquired by BRE Retail Holdings Inc., an affiliate of Blackstone Real Estate Partners VI LP, from Centro Properties Group. The transaction nationwide included 92.1 million square feet of commercial property in 39 states, along with Centro's U.S. property management assets and 600 employees.

The sale comes as another longtime local shopping center, the 778,000 square foot Woodville Mall, seeks another owner. According to a new commercial real estate listing, 40 percent of the mall's retail space is vacant or being rented on a month-to-month basis. The asking price is $3 million and the listing claims that the mall in Northwood "needs a new roof, as well as a HV/AC repair job."

Woodville was the first enclosed "super-regional" mall in metro Toledo, opening in 1969. Mike Kohan, an investor from Little Neck, N.Y., bought it in November, 2009, for $700,000.

As for the local shopping centers in the Centro Properties transaction, all are between 36 and 56 years old, and though many have been remodeled, each has significant vacancies.

Alexis Park, on the northeast corner of Lewis Avenue and West Alexis Road, is a 20.8 acre site built in 1968 that last sold for just under $8 million in 2003.

Great Eastern Shopping Plaza, on Woodville Road at South Wheeling Street in Northwood, is a 13.4-acre site built in 1956 that last sold for $9 million in 2006.

Miracle Mile Shopping Plaza, near the southwest corner of West Laskey and Jackman roads, is a 33.3-acre site dating back to 1955. Its most recent sale data was unavailable from Lucas County sources.

Southland Shopping Plaza, on the northeast corner of South Byrne Road and Glendale Avenue, is a 32.3-acre site built in 1962 that last sold for $14.75 million in 2006.

Great Eastern Shopping Plaza in Northwood was built in 1956. Great Eastern Shopping Plaza in Northwood was built in 1956.
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Starlite Plaza, at 5700 Monroe St., Sylvania, is an 11-acre site built in 1969. Its recent sale data was unavailable from the county.

Napoleon Center, at 1255 Scott St., Napoleon, is a one-acre site built in 1966. It last sold for $5.2 million in 2005, Henry County records show.

Centro chief executive officer Michael Carroll, who will join BRE and is a Toledo native, said new ownership means the company is better positioned to improve and redevelop the local retail centers.

"We just haven't had the availability of capital over the last three years because we were too highly leveraged, but the sale fixes that. Now we're in a position to be more proactive at the properties."

A.J. Agarwal, senior managing director of the Blackstone Group, said in a statement that the deal means BRE "is well-positioned today with an attractive portfolio comprised of strategically located assets in dense, infill markets with productive grocer anchors. We look forward to partnering with the company's experienced management team to help them pursue the growth opportunity embedded within this portfolio."

Sam Zyndorf, a commercial real estate broker with the Toledo office of Signature Associates, said he had no information about BRE's plans for their newly acquired northwest Ohio properties, but said that broad changes in consumer shopping habits are forcing changes on commercial and retail space nationwide.

"You're likely to see some of these spaces switch their use. There just isn't as much need for retail space like there was," Mr. Zyndorf said, citing the example of online retailing. "You take a center like Starlite. That's a nice building, but I don't know who's going to take the old grocery story. I don't know what [big box retailer] would take that space today."

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at: lvellequette@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.



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