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TAMPA, FL-Strong demand from national investors for retail properties here and in Orlando this year have kept shopping center prices high, delegates attending the 2003 Florida Conference of the International Council of Shopping Centers in Orlando were told.

In Tampa, 27 sales totaling four million sf aggregately valued at $280 million were recorded in the last 12 months, according to a special Trammell Crow Co. report prepared for the ICSC delegates. In Orlando, 22 properties totaling 2.2 million sf valued at $213 million exchanged ownership.

“Fueling the demand (in Tampa) is the area’s sustained population and job growth, which is projected to continue well into the future,” says John M. Crossman, Crow’s senior vice president of investments. “Additionally, growth corridors on the perimeter of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties and counties surrounding the immediate Tampa Bay area (Pasco, Hernando, Lee, Manatee and Polk) are in the sights of investors and developers.”

Crossman says one of the biggest question marks in local industrial real estate circles is what Tampa Bay Buccaneer owner Malcolm Glazer plans to do with the defunct, 26-year-old, 895,000-sf Tampa Bay Center mall his First Allied company bought in January from the Rouse Co. for $22.9 million, or $45.59 per sf.

Glazer initially was reported to be considering redeveloping the property as a new Bucs’ training facility. “However, First Allied may (also) consider developing it into a combined Bucs-themed shopping and training center,” Crossman says.

The largest dollar transaction of the year-to-date locally was the 100%-occupied, $25-million, 94,774-sf AMC Veterans 24 property sold in June for $263.79 per sf.

In Orlando, shopping centers anchored by Publix Supermarket Inc. of Lakeland continue to be the investment of choice for most investors, according to the Trammell Crow report. “In the past six months, three of the eight sales that occurred were Publix-anchored centers, and many transactions scheduled to close by year end 2003 support this trend,” says Crossman.

The largest sale to date in Orlando was Plaza Venezia, a three-year-old, 128,242-sf center that sold in March for $26.3 million, or $205.08 per sf, at a cap rate of 8.50%.

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