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NEWPORT BEACH, CA-Heslin Holdings Inc. has converted two former Albertsons supermarkets into Food4Less grocery stores, refinancing the properties with a $25-million direct conduit loan from Merrill Lynch. The stores include an 80,000-sf Food4Less at 7910 Katella Ave. in Stanton and another 80,000-sf Food4Less at 914 W. Orangethorpe in Fullerton.

The funding replaces a portion of a $33-million bridge loan with Inland Mortgage Capital Corp. that Heslin used to acquire four properties early last year, when Heslin bought the then-empty supermarkets from Albertsons as part of a larger portfolio purchase. The Newport Beach-based company’s business plan revolved around landing new tenants for the two locations, notes Casey McKeon, director of acquisitions for Heslin.

The refinancing follows Heslin Holdings Inc.’s recent naming of McKeon as acquisitions director as part of the firm’s plans to expand its holdings, according to Matthew Heslin, president of the company. McKeon is overseeing all acquisition and development opportunities in the Southwestern US as Heslin expands its portfolio of retail properties.

Terms of the new loan were not disclosed. Heslin, founded in 2003, owns the Food4Less properties in partnership with Becker Development, formerly known as Retail Holdings LLC. Heslin acquired six Albertsons locations for $40 million in partnership with Becker, which was then still known as Retail Holdings. The deal included four Albertsons buildings that were acquired as a single $27-million portfolio and two others that were acquired separately.

One of the properties that Heslin and Becker acquired was a 32,500-sf former Albertsons store at 4211 Eagle Rock Blvd. in L.A.’s Glassell Park. They have signed United Kingdom-based Tesco, one of the world’s largest grocery chains, to one of its first Southern California leases at that location.

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