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Business Observer Monday, May 23, 2022 1 month ago

Manatee County developer and landlord buys Sarasota mall for $25.1M

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Benderson Development, which built The Mall at University Town Center, acquires Crossings at Siesta Key.
by: Louis Llovio Commercial Real Estate Editor

East Manatee County-based Benderson Development, the developer behind The Mall at University Town Center in north Sarasota County, has bought Crossings at Siesta Key for $25.1 million.

The mall, previously known as Westfield Siesta Key and Southgate Mall, is 439,958 square feet and sits on 26.97 acres. Its current list of tenant includes anchors Macy’s and CMX CinéBistro as well as Connors Steak & Seafood, Talbots, LensCrafters, Loft and Chico’s.

It is at 3501 S. Tamiami Trail at the intersection with Bee Ridge Road. Shaun Benderson, the company’s vice president, says in a statement that “the mall complements our local holdings.”

The purchase is the latest twist for a mall that’s seen its fair share of twists and name changes.

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield announced in December 2020 that O’Connor Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm, had taken over the Westfield Siesta Key mall.

URW, which at one point also owned Sarasota Square — which is about 7 miles south of the Crossings — and other malls along the Gulf Coast and across the country, began ridding itself of properties in the U.S. last year in part due to the hit it took during the pandemic, when its rental income dropped 29%.

The French company referred to the Crossings at Siesta Key as a “non-core” asset in its year-end 2020 financial statements.

That wasn't the case nearly 20 years earlier. Back then, in 2003, Westfield bought the Crossings at Siesta Key, for $62 million. A decade later, it failed to take decisive action to retain anchor Saks Fifth Avenue from leaving and numerous inline tenants — from Pottery Barn to Williams-Sonoma — exercised kick-out clauses in their leases and left, as well.

Many of the mall’s tenants relocated to Benderson’s then-new The Mall at University Town Center, which was developed by a joint venture with Taubman Centers. The $315 million mall opened in 2014.

Westfield then spent $8 million to renovate the Crossings at Siesta Key property, bringing CineBistro to Saks’ former space in 2016. A year later, Westfield announced plans to convert the mall into a “lifestyle center” with the introduction of a Lucky’s Market and four restaurants.

All but one of the restaurants has since closed, however, and Lucky’s left the center in early 2020 when it liquidated all its Florida stores. Discount grocer Aldi opened in Lucky’s former space last year, which has been owned since 2014 by Benderson following a $10 million transaction.

For its part, O’Connor had entered into ventures with Westfield and Washington Prime Group on 22 malls — including Westfield Siesta Key, Sarasota Square, Citrus Park, Countryside and Brandon — beginning in 2013, according to its website.

It acquired the Siesta Key center by buying a 51% equity stake from Westfield for an undisclosed amount.

Benderson officials did not announce its plans for the mall but say in the statement the company is known for turning underperforming properties “into thriving destinations that serve the needs and wants of the community.”

The purchase is the latest for University Park-based Benderson, which has been rapidly adding properties the past few years, including buying the Sarasota County administration building, which it paid $25 million for last year.

It also bought the 4.5 million-square-foot portfolio of 28 Fred Meyer grocery stores in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, Thrivent Financial’s headquarters in Minneapolis, and an interest in Duke Energy’s Metro Tower in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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