WELLESLEY, MA-A $300-million fund operated by Linear Retail Properties LLC of Burlington and financed by Principal Enterprise Capital has secured what may be the group’s finest prize to date upon buying Central Plaza, a block of Downtown retail servicing one of the region’s wealthiest communities. The 48,000-sf asset fetched $22 million, or $458 per sf, for the 100%-leased, multi-tenanted property.

While acceding that Central Plaza traded on the high end, Linear president William Beckeman tells GlobeSt.com that the investment team felt a chance to anchor Wellesley’s tightly controlled Downtown merits the sticker price. “We’re thrilled,” Beckeman says. “It is certainly one of the best retail locations in Greater Boston, if not New England.”

Linear acquired the asset in an off-market deal arranged by NAI Hunneman Commercial Co. VP Jonathan Aron, whose Boston-based firm has negotiated six of the 40 acquisitions now made by the fund. Principal Enterprise Capital is a subsidiary of Principal Financial Group of Iowa.

Central Plaza is the fifth deal bought by Linear/Principal that Aron has been involved in, with the latest coming about after he identified the Wellesley properties at 74-102 Central St. as matching the fund’s desire for a high-quality, core investment. “To me, this is the pre-eminent retail property in Wellesley Center,” says Aron. The veteran retail broker set about putting the bid together and contacting the ownership through assistance from NAI Hunneman’s management group, which operates the property, and will continue to under Linear’s stewardship. Aron ultimately represented Linear in the transaction, which bought the center from Wellesley Realty Trust, an LLC operated by a family that held the buildings for 40 years.

The Wellesley sale brings the total invested by the Linear/Principal fund to $175 million. Those acquisitions amount to more than $200 million of product value, estimates Beckeman, whose strategy has been to buy convenience-oriented retail in hard-to-replicate markets. During Q2, the group reached the halfway mark in their buying spree when they purchased a plaza in suburban Peabody, as detailed by GlobeSt.com. Among the more prominent properties in the portfolio are a strip of retail condominiums at Lincoln Plaza in Downtown Boston; the Marketplace in Burlington, located around the corner from Linear’s headquarters; and a 20,000-sf center in south suburban Boston’s Raynham which the fund acquired in the second quarter. Physically, the biggest property purchased is a 120,000-sf grocery anchored shopping plaza in Stow, MA.

Central Plaza’s tenants range from the soon-arriving Citibank to Wellesley Booksmith, a longstanding local icon. Central Plaza has a Gap/Gap Kids, several other apparel stores, and a restaurant, Alta Strada, owned by renowned Boston chef Michael Schlow. There is also a private parking lot for 115 spaces. “That’s certainly a benefit,” says Beckeman, who in a previous role mapped all retail space in eastern Massachusetts and says few downtowns are adequately served on the parking aspect.

From a demographic standpoint, the community is especially attractive for retailers, according to Beckeman. “The incomes are about as good as you’ll find, and there is a lot of [consumer traffic],” says Beckeman. “It is a very active Downtown.” Linear is unfazed by a fairly large redevelopment underway in the center being undertaken by Federal Realty Investment Trust, says Beckeman, maintaining that venture will only add to the allure. “I think the center can support it,” he says.

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