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MMI Development paid $5.2 million on Dec. 22 for two value-add retail centers on S.R. 436 in Casselberry, marking the last two commercial divestitures by principals of one of Orlando's most impactful homebuilders of the past 50 years.

The properties acquired were the Greater Mall (400-480 S.R. 436) and Summit Plaza I and II (1015-1033 S.R. 436), retail centers with just under 53,000 square feet each, and occupancy rates of roughly 70 percent at the time of sale. MMI paid about $45 per square foot overall.

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Residents in the area likely know Summit Plaza for one of Casselberry's best known Italian restaurants, the family-owned Palma Maria, and Greater Mall is home to offices of the Republican Party of Seminole County.

Both properties are 20 years or older, which MMI plans to manage and lease up with the help of Tailwinds Real Estate Development, said president Michael E. Wright.

Insight on who the private equity partners are funding the infrastructure, and what new development plans lie ahead.

"The positives for both are high traffic and high visibility along S.R. 436, and a signalized intersection for (Summit Plaza)," he told GrowthSpotter. "They're older properties that need to be spruced up a bit, and maybe marketed more aggressively."

New development may be an option for a portion of Summit Plaza, Wright added.

The seller, Greater Properties Inc., was the original developer of both properties. Its partners include principals of the former Greater Construction Corp., one of Central Florida's leading homebuilders dating back to 1965.

Brian Carolan, managing director for Crossman & Company, served as investment sales adviser on the properties for Greater. He had been working with the group for the past five years to slowly divest of their commercial assets, after they sold the main homebuilding business a decade ago.

"The partners held on to these commercial properties because they were cash-flowing so well,"Carolan said. "We've sold about 250,000 square feet of commercial assets for them over the past three years in Central Florida. These were the last two they had.

Orlando's ultimate contrarian buyer, go behind the scenes with MMI Development over eights years of assemblage and regulatory challenges for Maitland West.

"I met Mike (Wright) and Tommy (Ciserano, MMI's vice president) through the University Club of Orlando, and we began discussing these properties in mid-summer," he continued. "They've been multifamily developers historically, but wanted to get into more retail."

MMI's Ciserano led the analytics and negotiations of the deal, and will now coordinate management for the properties.

"What you have along that portion of the Semoran corridor in Casselberry is a lot of older retail product, but great population density," Carolan continued. "It's one of the most heavily traveled thoroughfares in Central Florida. Both should reflect great retail opportunities."

A mortgage of more than $3 million was sourced from First Green Bank to help finance the acquisition.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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