Sterling Sells Metro Orlando Mall for $73M

AEW Capital Management is the new owner of the Center of Winter Park, which had been extensively renovated and re-tenanted over the past five years.

By Scott Baltic, Contributing Editor

Center of Winter Park
Center of Winter Park

Sterling Org. has announced the sale of the 244,977-square-foot Center of Winter Park in Winter Park, Fla., a suburb of Orlando, for $72.8 million. AEW Capital Management was the buyer.

The shopping center had been acquired in February 2013 by the firm’s value-add institutional fund, Sterling Value Add Partners LP, for $27.7 million. HFF marketed the deal on behalf of Sterling Org.

The property, which was 97 percent occupied at the time of sale, is at the southwest corner of Orlando Avenue and Lee Road, less than 5 miles from downtown Orlando.

Center of Winter Park underwent a facelift and re-tenanting under Sterling, after Kmart closed its store there in 2014. Sterling backfilled the Kmart box with new anchor tenants, including a Marshalls/HomeGoods combination store, Ross Dress for Less and DSW. An adjacent Office Depot store was downsized to a smaller prototype, and teen discount retailer Five Below opened in what had been Kmart’s garden center.

Sterling also upgraded the entire property’s façades, lighting, parking lot, signage and landscaping. New leases were signed with Petco, Great Clips, MetroPCS and others, and lease extensions were negotiated with existing anchors LA Fitness and Michaels.

During our five years of ownership, our team was able to execute a textbook repositioning of Center of Winter Park, increasing the quality of the tenancy and more than doubling the net operating income at the property,” Brian Kosoy, Sterling’s managing principal, president & CEO, said in a prepared statement. “The deal materially outperformed our target returns.”

AEW did not respond to Commercial Property Executive’s request for additional information.

A prime time to sell 

Lately, when Sterling isn’t selling, it’s gearing up to buy. Just weeks ago, the company made the final closing of its fourth institutional closed-end fund, Sterling Value Add Partners III. With total capital commitments of $495 million, the fund exceeded its target of $450 million.

The metro Orlando retail real estate market is performing well, driven by state-leading rates of job expansion, household formation and retail sales growth, according to a second-quarter report from Marcus & Millichap. Net year-over-year absorption of nearly 2 million square feet and a modest construction pipeline have helped metro-wide vacancy fall to 4.0 percent.

The report noted that several submarkets, including Winter Park, have seen year-over-year drops of 200 to 340 basis points in vacancies, because “strong demand exceeded minimal construction.”

Image courtesy of Sterling Org.

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