MIAMI—The number of wheelers and dealers competing for South Florida shopping center properties in the first quarter totaled about the same as in the comparable 1999 period, but dollar volume and per square foot price were off.

Keyes Co. statistics show the median price paid for 69 retail centers in Miami-Dade was $97.82 per sf versus $100.72 a year earlier. The 54 properties sold in Broward County went for a median price of $92.40 per sf compared with $100.19 in the first three months of 1999. Prices in Palm Beach County nudged up fractionally, $94.23 in the first quarter versus $93.18 last year.

There were 160 first-quarter property transfers versus 163 a year ago in the same period the previous year. Overall dollar volume fell 5.2%, to $409.6 million v. $432.1 million in first quarter 1999.

Transwestern of Chicago emerged as one of the most active players, joint venturing with Asian Realty Partners and Caspian Real Estate. The partnership spent $50 million for Cocowalk in Miami’s Coconut Grove district; $35 million for BeachPlace in Ft. Lauderdale; and $4.75 million on a mix of retail storefronts on Clematis Street in Downtown West Palm Beach. Local investor Michael Swerdlow paid $20 million for the Paseos Mall on Coral Way in Miami.

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