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ATLANTA-Three small, suburban 100%-leased neighborhood shopping centers, directly across from two of the largest regional malls in Georgia, have sold for near-record per-sf-prices. Nineteen bidders were after the properties.

The properties’ proximities to the 1.9-million-sf Mall of Georgia in suburban Buford and the 1.1-million-sf Discover Mills mall in Lawrenceville were key factors in generating the premium prices, Craig Taylor, first vice president, Retail Investment Group in the Atlanta office of CB Richard Ellis Inc., tells GlobeSt.com.

Seaside Factory Outlet LLC of Seaside, OR paid Atlanta-based Collins-Goodman partnership $10.5 million, or $288.79 per sf, for the 36,358-sf Mill Creek Walk in suburban Buford. Bradenton, FL-based Bayshore Crossings LLC paid South Cobb Investors LLC of Atlanta $5.6 million, or $290.35 per sf, for the 19,287-sf Mills Station and Mills Walk in Lawrenceville.

Taylor says Seaside acquired Mill Creek Walk in a 1031 exchange transaction, placing 42% equity and assuming a $6.3-million loan. “We’re continuing to see a steady flow of 1031 buyers from the West Coast and other areas where property prices may be greater, but returns are not,” the broker tells GlobeSt.com.

Eleven bidders sought the two Lawrenceville properties. Eight buyers competed for the Buford center. “Mill Creek Walk generated a great deal of [buyer] interest with its tenant roster and unbeatable location across from the Mall of Georgia,” Taylor says. Among the property’s tenants are Petco, Starbucks, Jennifer Convertibles and Verizon Wireless.

The broker tells GlobeSt.com the deals were done at this time because “the owners were using proceeds to purchase other land parcels that they had previously targeted for development.” Michael Ferguson is the key principal at Bayshore Crossings. Tim Perry, vice president, LJ Melody, arranged the acquisition financing for Bayshore. The two centers are in “a high-growth and high-income part of Gwinnett County that offers the kinds of demographics retailers and investors desire,” Taylor tells GlobeSt.com.

He says he and associate Josh Randolph brokered the largest per-sf-price attained to date by a metro Atlanta shopping center—$331 per sf—in a $2.25-million May transaction at the one-year-old 6,800-sf, 100%-leased Loganville Plaza in suburban Loganville, as GlobeSt.com previously reported.

Besides the nearness of the three retail centers to large regional malls, the average asking gross rent range of $25 to $26 per sf at the properties also factored into the premium price, Taylor says.

Brokers Len Davis of Davis Investments brought the buyer to the seller at Mill Creek Walk in Buford. David Fletcher of Wagner Realty did the same at Mills Station and Mills Walk in Lawrenceville. Taylor tells GlobeSt.com Mill Creek Walk went to market in August 2004; a contract was signed in January and the deal closed this week. “The loan assumption process was the reason for the delay,” Taylor says. Mills Station and Mills Walk were on the market since December. Mills Station and Mills Walk were built in 2004; Mill Creek Walk in 1999.

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