Citrus Tower Village, at the northeast corner of U.S. 27 and Citrus Tower Boulevard in Clermont, recently sold to Publix.
Citrus Tower Village, at the northeast corner of U.S. 27 and Citrus Tower Boulevard in Clermont, recently sold to Publix. (By Julie Anderson)

In the 15 years since the Zagame family business, Presco Real Estate Group, started developing the Citrus Tower Village shopping center in Clermont, the economy has been on a wild roller coaster ride, shooting up, crashing down and recently climbing out of the abyss.

On Sept. 30 Presco got off the ride with Citrus Tower Village, selling the 30-acre center to Real Sub LLC, a subsidiary of Publix, for $22.5 million. Publix has been a tenant in the center since 2003. At time of sale the center was 100 percent leased with 21 tenants, including two banks and a barbecue restaurant on an out parcel.

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"It's what we worked on for many years to get to," said Joseph E. Zagame Jr., Presco's managing member.  "It's a blessing, especially after such a long recession."

Publix approached Presco with the idea last May, asking to see the books for the 172,000-square-foot center as part of due diligence for the purchase, Zagame said.

"I have never seen due diligence (as rigorous) as Publix," Zagame said, adding it was welcomed. Because the center has been well maintained over the years "we knew the more they dug, the better we would look."

The sale itself went without a hitch, he said. "Publix was very fair, very professional. It was probably one of the smoothest transactions."

Publix spokesman Brian West acknowledged the purchase, but did not provide any more information.

Publix has been in expansion mode, obvious to anybody driving around Central Florida. Its annual report in March said it expected to use $1.3 billion in cash in 2015 to build new supermarkets, remodel existing supermarkets, add new or enhanced information technology hardware and applications, and to buy shopping centers where Publix is the anchor tenant, such as the Citrus Tower Village.

Teresa Burney can be reached at 352-455-1955 or at teresaburney4@gmail.com

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