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SIMI VALLEY, CA-An exchange buyer based in Agoura Hills has acquired a newly completed shopping center for $15.9 million in one of two new retail deals totaling more than $27 million, according to Faris Lee and Grubb & Ellis. The second sale was a neighborhood center in Walnut.

Rich Walter, president of Irvine-based Faris Lee, says that the pre-sale of the Simi Valley property, the 24,466-sf Shops at Simi Valley Town Center, marks more than $82 million in pre-sales of retail centers that the firm has completed in the past year. He says the firm has lined up more than $100 million of new pre-sale projects over the next six months.

Walter points out that pre-sales are becoming more popular because of the difficulty that buyers face today in finding quality retail properties and the increased competition they face when new properties under construction hit the market. Pre-sales give buyers an early chance to acquire the properties and they give developers the chance to “lock in a buyer at a fairly close cap rate to the current market,” Walter says. This is significant because of the risk developers face that cap rates might move up by the time construction is complete, Walter explains.

Walter and Patrick Kent of Faris Lee Investments represented the seller and developer of the property, B&D Partners LLC of Anaheim, with Dennis Vaccaro of Faris Lee Investments representing the 1031 exchange buyer.

The Shops at Simi Valley Town Center is situated adjacent to the Ronald Reagan Freeway, State Highway 118, in front of the newly developed Simi Valley Town Center. The latter is an 800,000-sf open-air mall that is Ventura County’s largest regional mall.

Kent notes that Faris Lee began marketing the property before the start of construction. The asking price was more than $650 per sf and the rents were higher than local market leases, he notes, and the sale closed escrow before most tenants opened for business.

In the other retail deal, a private investor bought 31,793 sf of the Lemon Creek Village neighborhood center from Signal Walnut Partnership for $11.8 million, with Ken McLeod and Parker Douglass of Grubb & Ellis’ West Los Angeles office representing the seller. The space, which is located at 308-388 Walnut Ave., is part of a center that is anchored by a Vons supermarket, Blockbuster Video and Wells Fargo branch that were not part of the sale.

Tenants in the portion of the center that sold include Hallmark Gold Crown and Cingular Wireless. The property was 99.2% leased at the time of sale. The buyer was represented by Phoebe Chen of Coldwell Banker George Realty.

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