PHOENIX-Town & Country Shopping Center, once classified by a local expert as a “dinosaur” when on the sales block close to a decade ago, has sold for $52 million following an estimated $7-million renovation by the seller, VGA Ltd. of Denver.

The 315,000-sf neighborhood center, located at the intersection of Camelback Road and 20th Street, was considered to be an underperforming asset when VGA acquired it in 1998. “We’d sold it to them at the time and it needed a variety of things done,” Cam Stanton, first vice president with CB Richard Ellis Inc. in Phoenix, tells This time around, he was representing the buyers, Red Mountain Retail Group of Santa Ana, CA and Lemieux Investments of Paradise Valley, AZ.

Stanton says VGA, which was self-represented, spent eight years repositioning and re-leasing the center. It’s presently stabilized at 90%, with tenants that include Trader Joe’s, Marriott Courtyard Hotel, Linens ‘n Things, LA Fitness and Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus Restaurant.

“Overall, the property is in decent shape,” Stanton says. “The buyers will have some re-leasing to do. And ultimately if they can gain control of the land from the ground owners, either by acquiring a fee title to the land or making the landowner a partner, they’ll have the potential to do either high-rise office or residential there.” The center sits on 24 acres owned by the Mars family heirs of M&M/Mars Inc. of Elizabethtown, PA.

“Mars had owned a significant amount of property in and around the 20th Street corridor. That was a dairy out there many years ago,” Stanton explains. Mars signed a long-term lease with the center’s developers in the 1950s, with “57 years left on that lease,” he adds.

Though the new owners don’t have control of the land, they do have a deal with “value-added qualities,” Stanton points out. “The fact that this is on Camelback Road and it’s the only major commercial piece on Camelback that was up for acquisition, there’s a potential for redevelopment down the road.”

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