New York family pays nearly $30M for trophy retail plaza in Celebration

New York-based Ben Hur Investments paid $29.5 million within the past week for Shoppes at Celebration Place, a popular dining hub across from Disney's corporate offices.

The purchase price included the firm's assumption of a $17.4 million balance of the developer's construction loan. The seller also required a minimum of $12 million equity above the purchase price.

The company is the real estate investment arm of the BenHaim and Harary families, principals of In Mocean, one of the largest ladies swimwear manufacturers in the United States. Ben Hur's national portfolio is diversified among retail, office and multifamily.

Director of Acquisitions Leon J. Harary told GrowthSpotter they viewed the center as a trophy asset in a fast-growing area.

"We felt like we were buying a piece of Walt Disney," he said. "We love the property. We believe in it strongly."

The 44,095-square-foot shopping plaza is home to Walgreens and several restaurants, among them Chipotle, Dunkin' Donuts, Buca di Beppo, Pei Wei Asian Diner, Applebee's, Holler & Dash, Arby's and Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

"It was a complicated deal because of the amount of cash and equity involved," Harary said. But the firm was still able to close in 30 days. 

Harary said he made multiple trips to Orlando during the contract period, and is actively looking for more retail and residential investment opportunities in this market. Ben Hur is also in the market for a local commercial real estate firm to assist their search, he added.  

Atlanta-based Stan Johnson Company (SJC) represented the seller,  Flagler Realty & Development, which built the shopping center over multiple phases starting in 2015.

"We've known the developer for years and have sold multiple properties for him," said SJC Regional Director Joey Odom, who noted the property was only on the market for a few months before landing a solid contract.

"We got a ton of interest, and the fun thing about this deal was it wasn't just institutional buyers," Odom added. "It was also private family trusts, 1031 exchange buyers and international buyers."

He said the plaza helped fill a market gap for fast-casual dining adjacent to the quad of office buildings with thousands of workers, and just a block from the county's largest hospital. In the last few months, Disney has closed deals with Kettler and Mattamy Homes to build thousands of new homes and apartments in Celebration. 

Odom called the Shoppes a generational hold asset that was ideal for the investor. "We had known of them but had never worked with them before," he said. "Through our marketing we were able to tap into them and get the conversation going." 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated with the correct purchase price.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Copyright © 2018, GrowthSpotter
82°