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   Albertville Crossing sold to Kansas City development firm

Finance & Commerce
March 23, 2006

Burl Gilyard, F&C Real Estate Writer

Coborn's grocery store anchors the 104,500-square-foot neighborhood center

Kansas City-based development firm Copaken, White & Blitt has purchased the Albertville Crossing retail center for an undisclosed price for one of its income funds.

Bob Pounds, senior vice president, and Tim Prinsen, vice president, both of Welsh Cos., represented seller H.J. Development of Wayzata.  The sale closed last Wednesday.

The 104,500-square-foot neighborhood center is anchored by a Coborn's grocery store.  The project includes six separate buildings with a total of 24 tenants.  Albertville Crossing is 98 percent leased.  The property is at County Road 19 and 57th Street in Albertville.

"We like the demographics.  We thought it was a nice stable area and growing.  It was definately what attracted us," said Troy Marquis, chief operating officer for Copaken, White & Blitt.  "We've got a very dynamic tenant mix there.  We like the overall package."

The Kansas City firm has historically focused on properties in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois.  But last November, Copaken, White & Blitt bought the EasTen Shopping Center, a 125,000-square-foot retail project in Moorhead.  That center is also anchored by the St. Cloud-based Coborn's grocer.

In that deal, the Pounds and Prinsen team represented Copaken as the buyer.  "Based on our EasTen purchase last year, we had some experience with the Coborn's group, and we really like their operation," Marquis said.  "We felt it would be a very good investment for the fund."

Pounds said interest in the Albertville property was robust.

"It was strong.  It had its own appeal," Pounds said.  "On the one hand, there were those who viewed it as being too outside the Twin Cities core for their comfort.  On the other hand, it is the epitome of what people want:  grocery-anchored [retail].  The grocery store is doing phenomenal business and enjoying phenomenal growth."

"When we took the assignment on, we did a little research about what's happening in that corridor.  It's a high-growth corridor," Pounds said of the northwest metro.  "It was an aggressive purchase," he said.

H.J. Development purchased the project before it was completed in 2002 from Minnetonka-based Oppidan Investment Co.

Gary Janisch, one of the owners of H.J. Development, said the decision to sell emerged from discussions with Pounds at the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas.

"It was a well-leased center.  Coborn's is doing very well," Janisch said.  "I'm going to miss the center."

Janisch said the sale was unusual for H.J. Development. 

"We're not in the market to sell our properties.  We acquired about $55 million in properties last year, and we really want to acquire more this year," he said.

"We're looking for a couple more projects.  Are we in the selling mode?  No," Janisch said.

Janisch noted his company recently acquired 61,000 square feet of under-construction retail as part of the Park Place Promenade project in Brooklyn Park from Eden Prairie-based Solomon Real Estate Group.  That retail space will abut a Cub Foods, which will be owned by the grocer. 

While the Woodbury Lakes lifestyle center traded for $99 million at the end of 2005, generally speaking, retail properties have been scarce lately on the local investement market. 

"It's either been traded, refinanced or there was a decision not to sell for whatever reason," Pounds said.  "It's probably the hottest property type out there."


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