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ORLANDO-Weingarten Realty Investors of Houston appears to be racing Inland Retail Real Estate Trust Inc. of Oak Brook, IL to buy multiple Florida neighborhood shopping centers.

Weingarten’s sixth and newest purchase from Winter Park Associates Ltd. is the 41-year-old, 102,000-sf, fully leased Winter Park Commons Shopping Center in suburban Winter Park, FL.

The Texas REIT wouldn’t disclose the price of the nine-acre property. But area brokers tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity the estimated price is $13 million or about $125 per sf, based on previous comparable sales.

The acquisition brings Weingarten’s retail portfolio in Florida to 1.2 million sf. Inland owns 16 properties in the state, totaling 1.82 million sf out of a total Southeast portfolio of 3.12 million sf.

Name tenants at Winter Park Commons are Whole Foods Market, Bank of America and Outback Steakhouse.

Weingarten bought the center because of its “strategic location in one of Orlando’s premier communities,” the REIT’s president/CEO Drew Alexander says in a prepared statement. The location “provides a dense population with high-income levels and has limited land available for commercial development, thereby reducing future risk of new competition,” Alexander says.

The center serves a population of 93,000 within a three-mile radius and 75,000 cars passing the site daily, the Weingarten executive says.

The 1.96 million-sf Winter Park-Maitland submarket has a 7.2% vacancy level with 140,775 sf available for lease, according to a mid-summer analysis by the Orlando office of Grubb & Ellis Co. Asking rent is $10.82 per sf. First-half net absorption was 17,969 sf. There is 53,000 sf of new product under construction.

Other Florida properties owned by the REIT are Colonial Plaza and the Market at Southside, both in Orlando; Pembroke Commons in Pembroke Pines, FL and Boca Lyons, Boca Raton, FL, both in South Florida; and Venice Pines in Venice, FL, southwest Florida.

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