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LINDEN, NJ-SSR Realty Advisors, based in Morristown, NJ, has acquired the newly constructed, 387,855-sf Aviation Plaza shopping complex on Routes 1 and 9 in this Union County community on behalf of Tower Fund, a core commingled fund managed by SSR. The purchase price of $54.5 million factors out to just over $140.50 per sf.

The seller was Starwood Ceruzzi CE LLC, which is controlled by Fairfield, CT-based Starwood Ceruzzi. The seller was represented by Jeff Dunne and Jim Tully of CB Richard Ellis’ Tri-State Investment Team of Paramus, NJ and Stamford, CT. The duo was also responsible for securing the buyer. No further details of the sale were released.

“Aviation Plaza offered investors a premium tenant roster with significant remaining terms given its recent construction, which attracted a high level of interest and aggressive pricing,” according to Dunne. “The interest in this asset was consistent with the recent trend we’ve seen of aggressive pursuit of well-located retail properties.”

“Besides the quality tenancy and long-term leases, another factor was the area’s solid demographics,” adds Yvonne Compitello, managing director for SSR Realty Advisors and Tower Fund portfolio manager. “In addition, the acquisition is in keeping with Tower Fund’s strategy of increasing its allocation to the retail sector.”

Aviation Plaza (its name is a reference to that fact that it occupies a 39-acre portion of the old Linden Airport, a defunct general aviation facility) was completed earlier this year. It has a solid anchor tenant complement that includes Target, a ShopRite supermarket, Marshall’s, Staples, Old Navy and A.C. Moore. A separately owned Home Depot located within the center was not part of the sale. The complex is currently 98% occupied, and approximately 80% of its tenants are national retail chains.

SSR Realty Advisors, a subsidiary of MetLife and an affiliate of State Street Research & Management Co. of Boston, provides real estate investment management advisory services to pension plan sponsors and other institutional investors. Its Tower Fund is available through group annuity contracts of MetLife.

The CB Richard Ellis Tri-State Investment Team, meanwhile, specializes in the sale of investment properties in the suburban markets surrounding New York City. The group has closed approximately $295 million in transaction to date in 2003.

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