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NASHUA, NH-A pair of year-end acquisitions including the Amherst Street Village Center here on Route 101A has put Linear Retail Properties over $200 million in a fund that seeks to acquire more than $300 million of “convenience-oriented retail” in New England. Backed by capital partner Principal Financial Group, Linear spent $72 million in 2007 for a campaign that began in 2003 and has now led to 43 separate purchases.

“It’s a big milestone for us,” Linear president William Beckeman tells GlobeSt.com of the $200 million mark attained thanks to its $9.7 million Nashua acquisition. Besides that 48,000-sf asset at 550 Amherst St., Linear separately closed on 138 and 140 S. Main St. in Milford, MA. The firm paid $7.3 million for that shopping center, a 50,000-sf complex that has four buildings.

The Milford property “embodies everything we like in buying retail,” says Beckeman, citing the bustling Route 140 roadway on which the asset sits, plus a strong demographic that has attracted such well-known tenants as AT&T Wireless, D’Angelo’s and a Honey Dew Donuts shop. Occupancy at the time of purchase was 87%. Linear has retained Meredith & Grew as manager for the property, and is in the process of hiring a leasing broker.

Meredith & Grew was also tapped to manage the Nashua center, but full occupancy means no need for a leasing agent. “It’s a great property,” Beckeman says of that investment, citing the 5.4-acre development’s presence in one of New Hampshire’s top retail strips. Amherst Street Village Center is located at the entrance to a new center featuring a Target and TJ Maxx, notes Beckeman, whose firm also owns a shopping plaza in Nashua’s renowned retail district that cuts along the Daniel Webster Highway on the east side of Route 3.

“We’d buy more there if we could,” Beckeman says of Nashua in general, adding that the firm is exploring possible opportunities in the area as the new year commences. Nashua is the state’s second largest city at 87,000 people, while the stretch of Route 101A where Amherst Street Village Center is located has a daily traffic count of 38,000 vehicles. Tenants of that three-year-old property include Walgreen’s and Petsmart.

Despite the unstable investment sales climate that disrupted the final quarter of 2007, and a sense that some owners have not yet grasped the changing market climate, Beckeman says he anticipates Linear will be able to continue its active buying platform throughout southern New England. “I’m pretty optimistic for the coming year,” says Beckeman, whose firm has invested in both off-market and marketed deals in building its portfolio.

The Milford deal was presented to Linear by the sellers, a private trust, whereas CB Richard Ellis principal Chris Angelone negotiated the sale of the Nashua property. Angelone represented Regency Centers, the developer of Amherst Street Village Center.

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