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RESTON, VA-A Sonic franchisee with plans to open 40 to 50 stores in the greater Washington area over the next several years will be using sale-leasebacks as a mechanism to extend its cash flow as it develops these new locations. The franchisee–Denver-based John Platten–has tapped Calkain Cos., a company that specializes in net lease strategies, to assist in this part of its multi-step approach to the market.

Even during a recession a sale-leaseback is a viable strategy, Calkain Realty Advisors’ AVP Rick Fernandez tells GlobeSt.com. “We operate across the entire Eastern Seaboard and I can tell you that there are still a lot of investors looking for real estate,” he adds.

Platten plans to develop 20 locations over the next 12 to 18 months. For that many locations, the outflow of cash would diminish the overall return without an appropriate exit strategy in place that would return some of the funds. In other words by selling and, subsequently, leasing back some of the locations there will be cash available for future sites. “The initial lower, more stable return of a net leased, sale-leaseback investment allows a franchisee to take maximum advantage of the capital they have just invested in the real estate,” Jonathan Hipp, Calkain Cos.’ president and CEO, explains in a prepared statement.

Manassas, VA, Gainesville, VA or Frederick, MD will most likely be the location of the first Sonic franchise in the area. Calkain estimates that DC area Sonic locations will be available for purchase by passive real estate investors by mid 2010.

Platten, who did not return a call to GlobeSt.com in time for publication, has also tapped Green Light Retail to assist in the site selection. Green Light principal Peter Framson told GlobeSt.com earlier this year that typical Sonic restaurants are developments of about 33,000 square feet.

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