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Benderson buys Burlington Coat Factory plaza near Galleria Mall

Benderson Development Co. has acquired a 24-acre shopping plaza across from Walden Galleria and adjacent to the Thruway, giving it a prime parcel with high visibility and accessibility that it now must fill.

Benderson paid $10.5 million to buy the 209,459-square-foot retail property at 2001 Walden Ave., which is anchored by Burlington Coat Factory. The seller was Capmark Financial Group’s Capmark Bank, formerly GMAC Commercial Holding Corp. Capmark had foreclosed on the property’s previous owner, said D. Scott Roth, a broker at Militello Realty, who handled the deal with Kelly Green.

Besides Burlington Coat, the property also has several “outparcel” buildings, including Smokey Bones and Olive Garden restaurants, a former Fuddruckers restaurant, Jared Jewelers and the former Ultimate Electronics store. Overall, it’s half-vacant.

“Sites like this are not readily available,” said Benderson vice president Eric Recoon, who added that the retail developer was “thrilled” at the acquisition. “The property is located in the center of the Walden Avenue retail corridor, has outstanding visibility and accessibility, and includes an existing collection of quality national tenants. We believe it’s a tremendous retail site.”

Recoon acknowledged that the property suffers from “a large, long-term vacancy,” but said Benderson has already had “conversations with multiple parties” who are interested in the site. “We have complete confidence in our ability to backfill the vacancy,” he said.

The sprawling property was originally built over 20 years ago as a warehouse for Sorrento Cheese, and later became home to a Wegmans supermarket and its affiliated Chase Pitkin store. Wegmans closed its store years ago, and the property was acquired by an out-of-town group, who invested significant money to build up the property and especially to lure Ultimate Electronics — which lasted only a few months before it went out of business.

Capmark acquired it through a “deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure” earlier this year and hired Militello to find a new buyer, Roth said. The brokers, who were seeking $12 million, put it out for competitive bidding and received “a lot” of offers before Capmark settled on Benderson. The deal closed in just 30 days.

“It all happened very quickly,” Roth said.