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(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of Real Estate Florida.)

LAUDERDALE LAKES, FL-The recent sale of Lakes Mall, located at the intersection of State Road 7 and Ocean Park Boulevard, is just one of a number of transactions owner UrbanAmerica LP will be completing in coming months. The New York City-based investment advisor firm is in the process of liquidating its Fund I, Dave Monzella, vice president of acquisitions, tells GlobeSt.com. The portfolio includes 10 remaining retail, office and mixed-use properties, most of which are located in Florida.

The 254,690-square-foot Lakes Mall was purchased by UrbanAmerica’s Fund I in 2000 for $5.6 million. Since the original purchase of the mall, UrbanAmerica has retenanted the property with anchors including Office Depot, Ross Dress for Less and Anna’s Linens. The 99%-leased mall has been sold to RMS Properties for $9.4 million.

“They paid less than $50 per square foot, which is substantially below replacement cost and that type of pricing is reflective of today’s market in order to consummate a transaction,” Mark Gilbert, executive vice president with Cushman & Wakefield of Florida, tells GlobeSt.com “RMS might be thinking redevelopment or leasing for very low rental rates.” RMS representatives could not be reached for comment Monday.

Twenty of UrbanAmerica Fund I’s acquired 28 properties have been sold to date, says Monzella. “It is a seven-year fund, plus extensions, so we are coming to the end of that period,” he says. Approximately 1.2 million square feet making up 10 properties remain in the fund and are either on the market or will soon go up for sale. Monzella says it would make the most sense to sell the remaining properties individually, but adds that the strategies for selling them have not yet been determined.

The 472,025-square-foot Northside Shopping Center, located at 7900 NW 27th Ave. in Miami, is the largest of the remaining properties in the fund. Tampa Festival Centre, a 130,146-square-foot property located at 2525 East Hillsborough Ave. in Tampa, will also be sold. Five smaller properties located in Naples, Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Sarasota and West Palm Beach, will also go on the market.

Outside Florida, the fund will look to liquidate the 253,633-square-foot College Park Commons at 7800 Outer Dr. in Detroit, the 76,928-square-foot Nucleus Plaza at 900 W. Owens Ave. in Las Vegas, and a 76,123-square-foot property at 24, 54 and 60 S. Third Ave. in Mount Vernon, NY.

“The demand for shopping centers of their quality has dropped precipitously in the last few months as the economy has softened,” says Gilbert. “We certainly are at a point in time where it is more difficult to be selling property. Pricing has changed on assets anywhere from 10% to 25% over the last 12 months. If the properties are being sold with debt to be assumed, they might be easier transactions,” he adds.

Richard Matricaria, vice president of investments with Marcus & Millichap in Fort Lauderdale, says the demand for this type of property has not changed. Instead, the lenders’ appetite for risk has shifted so that buyers are chasing returns at a higher level, he says. He disagrees with Gilbert and believes now may be a good time to sell and access equity in a property to make good purchases in the next year.

“We have a lot of clients that are interested in selling because they think the economy is going to get worse,” Matricaria says. “Next year, especially after what everyone is predicting to be dismal retail sales for holidays, I think you’re going to see some retailers go out of business in the first quarter.”

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