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SEAL BEACH, CA-Levine Investments of Phoenix bought the 144,726-sf Old Ranch Town Center neighborhood shopping center from Phoenix-based Kitchell Development for $38.5 million, according to CB Richard Ellis.Bob Young of the CB Richard Ellis Phoenix office tells GlobeSt.com that the property was fully leased at the time of the sale. Young represented the buyer, along with partners Glenn Smigiel, Steven Brabant and Rick Abraham of CB’s Phoenix office.

The Old Ranch center is at the northeast corner of Seal Beach Road and the San Diego Freeway (Interstate 405). It is anchored by Ralphs Supermarket and Sav-on Drugs, drawing from a customer base in the communities of Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and Rossmoor.

Young says investor interest in retail centers is strong and growing, adding that prospective buyers are especially interested in well-located neighborhood centers. The communities surrounding the Old Ranch center, for example, are all relatively affluent, and the center is in a mature part of Orange County with comparatively little land available for new development.

Economists and real estate specialists say the retail market in Orange County has fared better than many in the current economic downturn, with properties expected to perform solidly in the coming year, in which shopping centers are expected to remain popular with investors.

Although job growth in the county has been slower the past two years than it once was, it is expected to finish the year with job gains, a slight increase in retail spending, and the prospect of greater job gains plus further increases in retail sales next year, economic forecasts suggest.

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