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HARWICH, MA-Just a few days into the new year, Linear Retail Properties has closed on its first purchase of 2008, paying $10.4 million for the Harwich East Plaza. The 42,000-sf retail center is located on Route 39 near the intersection of Route 137, among the top shopping strips for the middle stretch of Cape Cod.

“This is a good deal for us,” says Linear SVP Aubrey Cannuscio, whose firm scooped up the 20-year-old center soon after owner Anthony Gargiulo put it on the market through broker Thomas Godino of Godino & Co. Besides the traffic count, which increases substantially in the summer, Linear was impressed by the property’s solid leasing history, explains Cannuscio. Just 1,100 sf is presently un-let. Among the 19 occupants are a Hollywood Video, 5,700-sf liquor store and a UPS outlet. The largest is the 6,200-sf 400 East Restaurant, one of the community’s most popular eateries. “It’s right up our alley,” Cannuscio says of the complex.

Harwich East even features professional services such as physicians, and has a 5,000-sf office component on a second level. Demographics are solid, Cannuscio says, and are improving thanks to an increasing number of people opting to live year-round in the area. The numbers are especially encouraging, he says, given Cape Cod’s historic reluctance to allow commercial development. There are very few centers above 10,000 sf, says Cannuscio, let alone an assemblage the size of Harwich East. The investor is already established on Cape Cod, owning Bourne Bridge Crossing in Bourne and a 60,000-sf asset in Yarmouth.

Linear acquired $72 million of product in 2007, propelling its $300 million investment fund with capital partner Principal Financial Group past the $200 million level after purchasing a 48,000-sf center in Nashua, NH for $9.7 million. That milestone was reported last week by GlobeSt.com in its January 2nd edition. The fund concentrates on so-called “convenience-oriented retail,” often moderate-sized, well-located properties serving strong population centers.

Harwich East is the 44th acquisition by Linear. Cannuscio says the firm has not yet selected a leasing broker, but has retained KeyPoint Partners of Burlington to manage the property. The development has been well-maintained, Cannuscio says, but Linear is exploring ways to improve returns. “We’re hoping to take it to the next level,” he says.

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