MIAMI-Woolbright Development Inc., a Boca Raton, FL-based real estate investment firm with nothing short of an aggressive acquisition plan, has moved forward on two shopping center deals and canceled another. The company just signed a contract to buy Tequesta Shoppes in Tequesta, FL in north Palm Beach County from Jacksonville, FL-based Regency Centers, a large, national owner of neighborhood shopping centers. The price is between $7 million and $8 million, with the capitalization rate in the 8% to 9% range, Woolbright’s Soraya Tyriver tells

The 110,000-sf Tequesta Shoppes is located on the northeast corner of U.S. Highway 1 and Waterway Dr., an affluent area. The center, currently 88% occupied, was built in 1986. Tequesta Shoppes is anchored by Publix, as are many of the centers Woolbright owns. Publix sales there significantly exceed the chain average.

Woolbright expects the Tequesta Shoppes sale to close in early January. The company is still exploring financing options for the deal, Tyriver says.

This won’t be the first time Woolbright owned Tequesta Shoppes. The company owned the center in 1993 in partnership with the Sterling Cos. The partnership sold the center to Regency Centers in August 1998.

Steve Miskew of RJS Realty Group represented the seller as the only broker involved in this deal.

It is Woolbright’s strategy to buy Publix-anchored centers, as they typically perform well–although the company does not limit itself to these centers. Woolbright looks for “stabilized Publix-anchored shopping centers or redevelopment opportunities–opportunities to create value,” Tyriver says. The company creates value by bringing a center architecturally and cosmetically up to date and through “a very aggressive leasing program to attract tenants.”

In another Publix-anchored shopping center deal, Woolbright closed on the purchase of the 135,000-sf Village Square at Golf in Boynton Beach, FL. The seller was Cartagena Holding Co. NV Inc., a private, Miami-based investment company. This center sold for $13.25 million, with a cap rate of between 9% and 9.5%, Tyriver says.

Village Square at Golf is at the northeast corner of Military Trail and Woolbright Road. Other major tenants of the 95% occupied shopping center include Bank of America and Wachovia Bank. The center was built in 1983.

Woolbright plans to lease the remaining space, to undergo a major landscaping upgrade and to put a new roof on the center. Financing for this deal was obtained through the Inland REIT.

In a separate deal, Woolbright has canceled its contract to buy Village Square at Pembroke in Pembroke Pines, FL, from a private investment company due to an environmental problem. The price was to be between $8 million and $8.75 million.

The 85,652-sf shopping center is located on Taft Street and Hiatus Road and is currently 99% occupied. It was built in 1979.

“Woolbright has canceled the contract to purchase the center because we found extremely high levels of dry cleaning solvents on the property left from a former dry cleaning plant,” says Duane J. Stiller, president of Woolbright Development, in a statement. “Unfortunately, we were unable to reach a solution for both parties involved in order to move forward with this purchase given the high costs estimated to clean up this environmental problem.”

This isn’t slowing down Woolbright, though. The company’s goal for 2003 is to double its total dollars spent on purchases in 2002, which was in the neighborhood of $60 million. The company’s target market is all of Florida, Tyriver says.

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