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JERSEY CITY, NJ-Inland Retail Real Estate Trust Inc. of Oak Brook, IL, has purchased a 721,000-sf New Jersey retail/mixed-use portfolio from Starwood Heller LLC and Starwood Heller II LLC. Cushman & Wakefield’s Metropolitan Area Financial Services Group (FSG) represented the seller and procured the buyer for the two-part, $131.4 million transaction. Joe Cosenza and outside counsel Charles Benvenuto represented Inland Retail in these transactions. Matthew Winn of Starwood Heller LLC and Andrew J. Merin, executive VP, Cushman Wakefield represented Starwood Heller LLC.

The sale involves seven properties. Six, consisting of five retail centers and one mixed-use retail/multi-family property, closed in mid-May; a seventh shopping center on Route 22 in Union is scheduled to close in late June.

“With this portfolio, we’ve added some of the top names in retail,” says Joe Cosenza, chairman, Inland Real Estate Acquisitions Inc. “We’ve added six top-tier centers in an area with some of the best demographics in the nation. These centers are an average of only about six years old, meaning they offer the latest designs the retailers have to offer,” he adds.

The six centers whose sales closed in mid-May are: 440 Commons, Jersey City; Brick Center Plaza, Brick Township; East Hanover Plaza, East Hanover; West Falls Plaza, West Paterson; Edgewater Town Center, Edgewater; and a Sony Theatre Complex based in East Hanover.

440 Commons Shopping Center, built in 1997, is a 163,000-sf community shopping center situated on a 15-acre parcel along the northbound side of Route 440 between Dansforth Ave. and Carbon Pl. in the southwest corner of Jersey City. The 100% leased shopping center, which sold for $17.96 million, is comprised of two tenants: a 115,844-sf Home Depot and a 46,489-sf Seaman’s Furniture store.

Brick Center Plaza, 51 Chambers Bridge Rd. in Brick Township sold for $19.17 million. Brick Center Plaza is situated on a nine-acre parcel at the corner of Chambers Bridge Road, Brick Blvd. and Route 70. Anchor tenants at this 100% leased property include Bed, Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Seaman’s Furniture and Christian Fine Home Furniture. This 114.028-sf center was constructed in the 1970s with the larger of the two buildings being completely renovated in 1999. The smaller of the two buildings was newly constructed in 2001.

East Hanover Plaza consists of two single-story multi-tenant buildings along the west side of Route 10 in East Hanover. A 136,421-sf company-owned Costco that anchors the center is not part of this transaction. Anchor tenants at this 100% leased center that are part of this transaction include Sports Authority, Office Max, Chili’s Macaroni Grill, New Jersey Pet Supply and Coconuts music. East Hanover Plaza was built in 1994 with details that include a decorative masonry block exterior and attractive metal and stucco awning over a concrete walkway that connects all of the in-line stores. The total square footage of the center is 234,081 sf, of which Inland Retail purchased 97,660 sf for $16.2 million.

West Falls Plaza, which sold for $20.9 million, is situated on two parcels along the west side of Route 46 in the towns of West Paterson and Little Falls. The two buildings in this transaction total 88,913 square feet and were constructed in 1995. Anchors at the 100% leased center include A&P Food Market, On the Border Mexican restaurant, and 6th Ave. Electronics (a subsidiary of Tandy Corporation). Directly adjacent to West Falls Plaza (not part of this transaction) is a center containing various retailers, including Harrow’s, Party City, Floor Superstore, Marty’s Shoes and more.

Edgewater Towne Center, which sold for $26.96 million, is a two-building luxury residential and retail complex containing 77,446 sf of retail space below 64 apartment units on the northbound side of River Road in Edgewater. The project, completed in 2001, offers residents a luxury lifestyle living and shopping experience with an urban streetscape atmosphere. A 41,609 sf Whole Foods Supermarket along with Men’s Wearhouse, Annie Sez and Rockaway Bedding, anchors this 100% leased complex. The 64 residential units are located on the top two floors of the buildings. Access to the apartments is available via the central courtyard in separate lobby areas. Edgewater Towne Center features eight studios, 40 one-bedroom units and 16 two-bedroom units. There is a two-story parking garage for the apartment residents containing 69 parking spots, which separates the residential component from the supermarket.

Sony Theater Complex, 145 Route 10 East in East Hanover is comprised of a 50,052 sf Sony Theatres multiplex cinemas, a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant and a six-story parking garage for a total of 70,549 sf that sold for $11.74 million.

“The Starwood Heller offer drew more than 30 bids from local and national players,” notes Andrew J. Merin, Metropolitan Area FSG executive VP. “This tremendous response can be credited to the quality of the properties involved, including their strong anchor tenants, prime locations within the respective markets, and overall excellent condition. At the same time, the interest also reflects continued high demand for retail investment opportunities in New Jersey.”

“Inland Retail is among the most active and aggressive retail investors in the nation today and the Starwood Heller portfolio purchase represents its foray into New Jersey,” added Jose Cruz, a Metropolitan Area FSG director. “The company has achieved an immediate, significant market presence here by acquiring these successful properties. At the same time, Starwood Heller took advantage of current market conditions to achieve a high return on its initial investment.”

Inland Retail Real Estate Trust Inc., is sponsored by Inland Real Estate Investment Corporation, which is part of The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies. The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies is comprised of independent real estate investment and financial companies doing business nationwide. Inland Retail owns more than 170 retail properties comprising more than 20 million square feet of retail space east of the Mississippi River.

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