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CHANDLER, AZ-Just six months ago, Mervyn’s Plaza was a cluster of vacant storefronts and empty parking lots. That was before “the plastic surgeon of real estate” stepped in to work some magic.

Today, the Mervyn’s-anchored plaza on the southwest corner of Alma School and Elliott roads is bustling with new businesses thanks to Michael A. Pollack Real Estate Investments. Within four months of taking over the management and leasing duties for the plaza, Pollack has revamped the façade and sliced its 50% vacancy rate to a more manageable 2% at a property with 179,077 sf of shadow space.

“We’ve been very aggressive in our marketing and leasing,” Patrick Cassidy, Pollack’s leasing and marketing director tells GlobeSt.com of the turnaround. A new paint job helped. So did cutting back trees and bushes that obstructed the view of the shopping center from the street. Competitive leasing rates that made the plaza far more desirable than new construction also helped to fill the rental void, now bringing in $9 per sf to $12 per sf, triple net for inline space.

“It had been neglected by its out of state owners and just needed some hands-on attention to detail,” Cassidy explained, noting that the project was the Pollack’s first joint venture. The effort paid off in seven new leases, including a Coomer’s craft mall and C&S Fashions, which split a 25,000 sf formerly occupied by Marshall’s. Several smaller retailers, among them Spa City, Pacific Coast Floors, Twice as Nice, Guitar & Keyboard City and Arizona Jewelers, signed on as well.

“The key is in the value we add to both the building owner and the tenants,” said Michael Pollack, the firm’s president. “In the case of Mervyn’s Plaza, we took an asset that had a negative cash flow and turned it into a profitable venture again. We did that by making sure tenants and shoppers have a clean, safe place to do business, pricing the rents at a fair level and being attentive to merchants’ needs.”

Pollack, who typically specializes in purchasing and renovating ailing strip malls, said this is his first joint venture involving co-ownership, property management and leasing in conjunction with a undisclosed California partner.

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