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

ORLANDO, FL-In their second announced transaction in as many weeks, New York City-based Cohen Commercial Properties LLC has acquired an 83,167-square-foot shopping center at 8111-8155 Vineland Ave. for $15.2 million. The Publix-anchored Regency Village, along with two outparcels, were purchased from original developer Tinwood LLC, a joint venture between Jacksonville-based Regency Centers and Publix, which constructed the property in 2002.

“The buyer was attracted to the property because the 54,000-square-foot Publix has a low occupancy cost factor compared to their rent, meaning the supermarket’s commitment to the site will be long-term,” says Jim Michalak with Tampa-based Plaza Advisors, who represented Tinwood in the deal. The project’s location at the intersection of International Drive South and Vineland Avenue, also drew the buyer to the deal. The location is across the street from the heavily trafficked 550,000-square-foot Chelsea Orlando Premium Outlets, and in close proximity to timeshare communities, the 778,000-square-foot Prime Outlets International center, Orlando Convention Center and major Orlando theme parks and attractions.

“The property met our priority of stability and sustainability at an appropriate value, all of which are important to us in the current economic climate,” said Robert Friedman, CEO of CCP, in a release. “Regency Village will also provide us with the opportunity to potentially enhance value through the implementation of certain strategic initiatives, including ground leasing the currently vacant outparcels and leasing the inline vacancies.” According to the latest data by Real Capital Analytics, the average investment sales price for Orlando retail is $223. Regency Village sold for around $165 per square foot.

The property is currently 88% occupied with major tenants including Subway, the UPS Store, Outback Steakhouse and Sony JVC Superstore. Average leasing rates at the center range from $27 to $29, says Michalak. In general, Orlando retail owners and leasing agents are offering significant concessions in order to hold on to tenants and prevent rental rates from slipping, Cushman & Wakefield reports.

The outlook for 2009 for the investment market is a bleak one, says Michalak, who points out that the prediction goes for retail throughout the state. “The bandwidth of available debt is tightened. Likewise, since consumer spending is down so much it’s having a negative impact on tenancy so absorption of retail space is very limited. The market we came out of was an anomaly,” he adds.

The flip side is that opportunities for buyers to make favorable deals will increase in the coming months, Martin Forster, director with the Orlando office of Cushman & Wakefield, writes in the brokerage’s year-end report. “The only competitive edge enjoyed by a very few sellers will be their ability to offer to finance buyers by holding paper for three to five years, until the debt markets become functional once again.”

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