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PORT WASHINGTON, NY-Fulfilling its quest to divest all non-core assets, Long Island-based Acadia Realty trust is selling off 17 properties with an aggregate 2.3 million sf of retail space. The sale will enable the mall REIT to embark on its stated goal of acquiring up to $300 million worth of shopping center properties.

Ten of the properties included in the sale are located in Pennsylvania. The remaining seven are spread across southeastern states from Virginia to Florida. While the sale price and the buyer of the portfolio have not been disclosed, Acadia vice president and director of financial reporting John Grisham, tells GlobeSt.com that the transaction is slated to be finalized in roughly 60 days, at which time detailed financial information will be released.

The sale is subject to a fixed-rate, cross-collateralized and securitized loan and the lender must permit the buyer to assume the debt. Acadia will retain a senior, preferred interest in the buyer. While it represents 25% of Acadia’s total square footage, the sale properties comprise less than 5% of its total net asset value.

Grisham says the impetus for selling the portfolio was tied to location and economics. “The geographic location–most of the properties are in the southeast–didn’t fit in with the balance of our portfolio,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “We’re looking for properties in the Northeast, located in primary markets with higher populations. These non-core properties were highly leveraged and some of the debt, compared to today’s rates, was very expensive. So, from a real estate as well as a balance sheet perspective, this sale is a ‘win win.’”

Last month, Acadia announced the formation of an acquisition fund with four of its institutional investors. Acadia will provide management, leasing and construction services for the joint venture, which will acquire up to $300 million of retail property. “We’re currently looking at some portfolios but there’s nothing definitive at this time,” Grisham says.

Nonetheless, according to Acadia president and CEO Kenneth F. Bernstein, funds from the 17-property disposition will prime the pump for the new partnership. “The sale of the portfolio will be at a price consistent with our internal valuations and will leave the company with a healthier balance sheet.” Bernstein says. “The company now has the capital to invest opportunistically and will acquire new assets through our joint venture.”

Based in Port Washington with corporate offices in Manhattan, Acadia specializes in the operation, management, leasing, renovation and acquisition of shopping center properties. The REIT currently owns and operates 54 properties totaling roughly 10 million sf, primarily in the eastern half of the US.

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