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Woolbright pays $13M for Sanford-area retail center, will fill long-vacant anchor

Outlined in yellow is the Boulevard Plaza retail center in Sanford.
Outlined in yellow is the Boulevard Plaza retail center in Sanford. (Woolbright Development)

A former Albertson's grocery store in Sanford has a new owner that expects to fill the vacant space within the next two years.

Boca Raton-based Woolbright Development Inc. purchased Boulevard Plaza shopping center from Branch Properties LLC of Atlanta. The $12.95 million-transaction was financed by US AmeriBank.

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The property is located at the northwest corner of the U.S. Highway 17-92 and Lake Mary Boulevard intersection. Neighboring properties include Lowe's and a Walmart Supercenter.

The 94,482-square-foot shopping center was anchored by Albertson's until 2012, when the company shuttered all but a handful of stores in Florida. Shai Moschowits, vice president of acquisitions for Woolbright, told GrowthSpotter his firm was attracted to the Sanford shopping center because of its location at a major intersection near S.R. 417, as well as being less than two miles from large employment centers Seminole State College, Seminole County Public Schools administration office and the Orlando Sanford International Airport.

And while the 61,130 square feet vacated by Albertson's has left a large empty spot in the center, Moschowits said it is still an active retail destination with national tenants, including CVS Pharmacy, Burger King, AT&T Wireless and H&R Block, as well as local companies like TrustCo Bank.

"All the existing tenants do very well there, despite the former Albertson's having been closed since 2012," Moschowits said. "It's a well-trafficked corner with good ingress/egress from both sides."

Some 50,000 cars pass the center on a daily basis, he noted.

Moschowits said Woolbright closed on the property in late May, "so it's still early for us at this stage (to comment on potential tenants). We are still finalizing our redevelopment strategy."

That said, Moschowits is confident the anchor space won't be vacant much longer.
"If things play out like they historically have, we will fill this center in two year's time," he said.

The center will undergo some new construction before the end of the year. In a deal announced prior to Woolbright's purchase, Orlando-based Twistee Treat USA LLC, an affiliate of Intram Investments, announced it will locate one of its unique ice cream cone-shaped buildings on a 4,900-square-foot outparcel.

Woolbright owns and manages more than 5 million square feet of retail space, primarily in Florida's metropolitan areas. With the purchase of Boulevard Plaza, the firm now owns three shopping centers in Central Florida, including the Wekiva Riverwalk center in Apopka and Lake Mary Villages, which is located 3.5 miles west of the company's newly acquired Sanford property.

Moschowits said Woolbright's growth plans are focused on Central Florida and the state's west coast.

At one time, Albertson's operated 25 grocery stores in Central Florida. The company opened the Sanford store in 2003 to great fanfare, in part because it included a Starbucks and because it was a successful redevelopment of a former car dealership.

However, it was one of the last new stores the company opened in Florida before it began its retreat from the state, because of strong competition from market-leader Publix and the emergence of Walmart in the grocery category.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at gnip@me.com. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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