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The Sheridan Centre, a retail plaza at Sheridan Drive and Sweet Home Road, Monday was auctioned away from Benderson Development Co.

Benderson Development is the largest retail property owner in the Buffalo area and also develops plazas across the nation.

The local development company, which built the 150,000-square-foot plaza in 1986, lost the property at a foreclosure auction. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., the mortgage holder, bought the property for $6 million.

Massachusetts Mutual has an $8.1 million judgment against the property for payments it says Benderson Development owes.

The defendant listed in the foreclosure case is RB-3 Associates, which is owned by Benderson Development, according to an attorney for Massachusetts Mutual.

The plaza owner failed to pay Massachusetts Mutual after a dispute developed between the parties. Foreclosure proceedings began about a year ago.

Officials from Benderson Development did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Massachusetts Mutual outbid local businessman Gerald Buchheit Jr., to protect its investment in Sheridan Centre. Buchheit, the only other bidder, dropped out at $5.9 million.

The insurance company hopes to sell the plaza for more than $6 million, said Brian Flanagan, an attorney with Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle, the law firm representing Massachusetts Mutual.

Flanagan held informal discussions with Buchheit and several other interested parties after the auction.

Buchheit might find purchasing the established plaza an easier entry into the northern suburbs than his plaza development in the South Towns. Buchheit is a partner in Quaker Crossing LLC, developer of a 370,000-square-foot plaza on Mile Strip Road in Orchard Park, which faced several hurdles last year in overcoming opposition from a citizen group.

Buchheit was also part of a group of Buffalo and Toronto investors that purchased the Statler Towers in Buffalo in 1992.

Sheridan Centre's tenants include Vix Deep Discount and Pharmacy, Four Seasons Restaurant, Health Care Plan's optical center, and several other shops. The plaza is about 80 percent occupied, according to Michael Montgomery, an attorney in Buffalo operating the plaza as court-appointed receiver.

Several other creditors, including Fleet Bank, Allied Lending Corp. and Shawmut Capital Corp., also have liens against the property, Flanagan said.

The insurance company also listed those companies as defendants in the foreclosure case to establish its position as primary lien holder.

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