Conn. REIT buys stake in NY shopping mall

Wing Biddle

Urstadt Biddle Properties yesterday said it took over management of and acquired a 9.7 percent stake in the Scarsdale, N.Y.-based Midway Shopping Center for $6 million, the firm’s fourth tri-state area acquisition since April.

The Midway mall, located at Central Park Avenue and Ardsley Road in Scarsdale, is anchored by a 69,000-square-foot ShopRite supermarket, scheduled to open in July 2010, and an 11,000 square foot CVS pharmacy, that is already operating. Other retailers at the mall include Dress Barn, Panera Bread, Red Lobster, Pizza Hut and People’s United Bank.

The mall is owned by the prominent Steinberg family, which owns several other malls and other real estate holdings in Westchester County. Urstadt Biddle Properties bought the stake from one of the family members.

As part of the deal, Urstadt Biddle became the exclusive managing and leasing agent for the 247,000-square-foot Midway Shopping Center and an adjacent 60,000-square-foot mall that is owned by some of the Midway investment partners.

Urstadt Biddle has also issued an $11.6 million loan to help repay a second mortgage and unsecured debt at the Midway mall.

The REIT has a 32,000-square-foot space available at the Midway mall, and is actively talking with three potential retail tenants.

The Greenwich, Conn.-based REIT’s three additional malls, including New Milford, Conn.-based New Milford Plaza in May for $22.5 million; Katonah, N.Y.-based Village Commons for $8.6 million in April and a 66.7 percent stake in Carmel, N.Y.-based Putnam Plaza Shopping Center for $6.2 million, also in April, are also anchored by grocers.

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Urstadt Biddle officials said that grocery-anchored shopping centers represent solid investments that are resistant to economic swings, draw a steady amount of customers and create positive cash flow.

“People have to eat in good times and bad times,” Willing “Wing” Biddle, president and COO of Urstadt Biddle, said in a phone interview. “A good supermarket can do $1,000-a-square-foot in sales and might equate to 40,000 customers a month.”

John Goodkind, managing principal at Newmark Knight Frank, in Greenwich, Conn., said the deals are a sign that the credit markets are beginning to loosen up for the right deal.

“To buy an existing well located well run center is like gold,” Goodkind said. “There’s more liquidity in the market for more product.”

Urstadt Biddle has also issued an $11.6 million loan to help repay a second mortgage and unsecured debt at the Midway mall.

The REIT is actively looking for other shopping center locations in Nassau County, Biddle said.