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PORTSMOUTH, NH-A popular grocery-anchored shopping plaza here in New Hampshire’s seacoast region has a new owner, as Durgin Square sells for $24.8 million. The 135,000-sf retail center was acquired by ING Clarion from Durgin Square LP.

“The center is home to a strong rent roll and is situated in one of New England’s most desirable markets for both retailers and owners,” says Cushman & Wakefield senior director Geoff Millerd, a member of the firm’s Capital Markets Group that peddled the asset on behalf of Durgin Square LP and also procured the buyer. Millerd was joined in handling the deal by C&W Capital Markets Group chief Robert Griffin Jr. and broker Michael d’Hemecourt.

A retail sales specialist, Millerd describes Durgin Square as “the dominant grocery-anchored shopping center” in Portsmouth’s vibrant retail market, a sector that has been evolving for 20 years near the border of mall-laden Newington. National firms who helped give Durgin Square an occupancy rate of 97% at the time of its sale include AC Moore, Aspen Dental, Boston Market, Mattress Discounters, Petco and TJ Maxx.

Situated on a 16-acre parcel, Durgin Square has access from three light-controlled intersections on Woodbury Avenue, a main thoroughfare that generates daily traffic exceeding 25,000 vehicles. The asset also abuts the Spaulding Turnpike, which has an average daily count of 62,000 vehicles and provides access to Interstate 95, connecting shoppers from Maine on the other side of the Piscataqua River.

Millerd is familiar with the Portsmouth area, having two years ago sold another major grocery anchored center across Woodbury Avenue that features a Kmart. “It’s a very strong retail market,” Millerd tells GlobeSt.com. Durgin Square has been a consistent performer almost since its opening in 1993, he adds, with occupancy typically running at or near 100%. The only availability presently is a 3,500-sf block of space, he notes.

The credit crunch has dampened commercial property sales thus far in 2008, but Millerd says the competitive bidding process for Durgin Square exemplifies that capital is still interested in pursuing prime retail opportunities. “It is a challenging environment, but for the right kind of assets, there is plenty of equity out there,” he says, enabling the seller of Durgin Square to meet its targeted pricing goals after drawing a bevy of institutional investors to the table.

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