MIAMI-In a transaction that signals a growing appetite forstrong retail investments, Mall of the Americas has secured a $52.5million loan extension. The property is about 95% occupied.

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Palm Beach-based Sterling Organization, a retail real estateinvestment, services and development company, owns and operatesMiami’s megamall. Al Rex, senior vice president of Weston-basedGrandbridge Real Estate Capital, facilitated the transaction withthe lender, Allstate.

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“While the loan was not maturing for another two years, we feltthat proactively managing our balance sheet well in advance of ourloan expiration was prudent,” says Brian Kosoy, president and CEOof Sterling. Mall of the Americas’ major tenants include HomeDepot, Marshalls, Ross Dress for Less, AMC Theaters, CompUSA, TigerDirect and Old Navy.

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Mall of the Americas spans 790,000 square feet on West FlaglerStreet, adjacent to the Palmetto Expressway and just south ofDolphin Expressway. Its location off a major South Florida trafficartery where over 400,000 vehicles pass daily makes it one of themost accessible and visible shopping centers in Florida.

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“Most of the insurance companies we represent have a largerprogram for 2011 than they did for 2010,” Rex tells GlobeSt.com.“They consider real estate a relatively safe place to allocateinvestment dollars again, with good value and healthy yields. Thefinancing deals are more conservative and they look harder at thefundamentals, but they are willing to invest in properties likeMall of the Americas.”

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The 50-acre megamall leverages about 1,800 linear feet ofunobstructed frontage along the Palmetto Expressway. It’s anchorspost sales volumes ranked among the highest in the country. Withthe addition of a DMV office in the mall, the owners expect evenmore foot traffic.

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“This is a sizeable refinance that signals we are turning thecorner,” Anthony Blanco, co-managing partner at Plaza Advisors inMiami, tells GlobeSt.com. “The market is starting to gain somevelocity as it relates to retail financing. This deal speaks to thestrength of the asset, an infill, irreplaceable piece of realestate with a long history of successful operations.”

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