JACKSONVILLE, FL-Wells Fargo funded a $25 million, five-year,fixed rate loan to refinance two neighborhood malls here. AtlanticKernan and Marsh Landing attracted the lender with market-defyingoccupancy rates.

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The loan was originated by Scott Bois, director of originationsfor Wells Fargo Real Estate Capital Markets. Wells Fargo declinedto disclose the interest rate.

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“Both properties have consistently maintained a 90 percentoccupancy rate or better over the past couple of years—and therents have stayed strong,” Bois tells GlobeSt.com. “Both projectshave good demographics-based markets and have good operators.”

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Located on 18.08 acres at the southeast corner of Atlantic andKernan Boulevards in Jacksonville, Atlantic Kernan is a163,270-square foot shopping center anchored by BJ’s Wholesale.Atlantic Kernan has seen recent lease wins including T.J. Maxx andShoe Carnival. Marsh Landing is a 59,586 square foot unanchoredshopping center located on 5.73 acres at the southwest corner ofMarsh Landing Parkway and South Beach Parkway in JacksonvilleBeach. Both properties were built between 2001 and 2003.

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“Atlantic Kernan is right in the middle of a big retailexplosion,” Barry Goldstein, president of Goldstein CommercialProperties in Jacksonville, tells Globest.com. “This is a marketthat is doing well and has done well. There will continue to bemore development as the market recovers.”

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Jacksonville’s retail sector has been hindered by highunemployment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an 11.2%unemployment rate there. More than 15,000 jobs were eliminated in2009.

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According to Marcus & Millichap’s 2010 National RetailReport, marketwide vacancy on retail properties will climb to thelow 12% range even as effective rents fall to lows unseen since2003. After a 5.9% decline in asking rents in 2009, the market willsee another 3.4% decline in 2010 to $14.12 per square foot.Negative absorption will total 260,000 square feet.

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“Everybody has suffered a little bit and has to pull back onrent and there is a little bit of vacancy occurring,” Goldsteinsays. “But that market seems to be withstanding the test of timeand I think it is a vote of confidence from Wells Fargo to investin this area of Jacksonville.”

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