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Erie County commercial real estate sales active in May

Commercial real estate sales activity heated up significantly in May after a somewhat tepid April, as a well-known local shopping plaza, an independent-living community, and a trio of Red Roof Inn hotels topped the list of recent deals last month.

The $24.8 million purchase of the 10.07-acre Montgomery Park senior community by NorthStar Realty Finance Corp., a New York City-based real estate investment trust, highlighted the transactions in May, easily besting the next largest deals.

The firm, whose health care real estate specialty area focuses particularly on independent living, assisted-living and skilled-nursing facilities, bought the community from Holiday Retirement, a senior living community owner and operator based in Lake Oswego, Ore. NorthStar owns 493 health care properties valued at $6.7 billion in all.

Founded in 1971, Holiday operates more than 300 independent senior living, assisted-living and memory-care communities in 43 states nationwide, with tens of thousands of residents. That includes seven in New York, with the nearest being in the Rochester suburbs of Fairport and Greece. It still lists Montgomery Park on its website as one of its communities.

The acquisition of Northtown Plaza in Amherst by WS Development of Massachusetts was next in the rankings, as the real estate firm paid $18.5 million to acquire the Sheridan Drive retail center from longtime owner Jon Luther.

WS, a designated developer for Whole Foods Market, is now demolishing the former Bon-Ton department store building and some adjacent space on the mall to make way for a 50,000-square-foot store for the Austin, Texas-based high-end grocer. Additional plans are still being finalized, but the developer has indicated it could spend as much as $90 million – including $15 million just for Whole Foods – to redevelop the entire plaza with new national and regional retailers – if it gets enough tax breaks from the Amherst Industrial Development Agency.

And Westmont Hospitality Group of Houston paid a total of $16.56 million to buy three Red Roof Inns in Amherst, Hamburg and Lancaster from Five Mile Capital Partners LLC, a Stamford, Conn.-based alternative investment and asset management firm. Specifically, it acquired hotels at 42 Flint Road in Amherst, near University at Buffalo; 5370 Camp Road in Hamburg; and 146 Maple Drive in Lancaster, paying $6.43 million, $3.2 million and $6.9 million, respectively.

Westmont, one of the largest privately held hospitality companies in the world, has over 500 hotels on three continents, and is one of the world’s biggest franchisees and co-owners of InterContinental Hotels Group and Hilton Hotels.

According to Erie County Clerk records, a total of 34 transactions over $200,000 in price closed in April, with a total value of $36.83 million. That’s down from 41 deals and $65.8 million in April 2014.

However, May took off, racking up 38 deals for $85.8 million. That’s nearly quadruple the deal value a year ago, and almost equals the dollar total for April and May of 2014 combined.

In all, the last two months tallied $122.63 million in combined dollars, a 38 percent increase from the same period last year. The number of deals was almost equal, at 72 this year compared to 74 a year ago.

Other deals include:

• Real estate investor Michael Lorigo, of Pillar Real Estate Advisors, bought the 176-unit Lake Heights apartment complex in Hamburg for $8.45 million, from First Prise Properties of Williamsville, an owner and operator of apartment complexes.

Lake Heights, with 220,000 square feet in all on 18 acres, consists of 44 two-story buildings, each with four two-bedroom units and coin laundry. There are 66 garages available for rent, along with surface parking. The complex is located at 5327 Rogers Road, at Southwestern Boulevard.

• Harrison Street Real Estate Capital and University Student Living teamed up to buy a 28-acre property at 2091 Sweet Home Road from Weinberg Campus for $5.675 million. Plans call for spending $30 million to construct a new student housing complex with eight four-story residential buildings and a single-story clubhouse, with 192 apartments and 640 beds in all.

• Nick Sinatra’s Better Buffalo Properties LLC completed the last acquisition from its larger $35 million purchase of 600 apartments and 20,000 square feet of commercial space, in 44 buildings, from Michael Hananel’s WNY Metro Horizon. Sinatra paid $5.14 million to buy 209 and 217 Elmwood Ave. and 228 Summer St.

• Buffalo Urban Development Corp. bought 10 properties along the Northland Avenue Belt Line Corridor on the East Side of Buffalo for $4.4 million, as part of the Buffalo Billion initiative to create a light industrial economic development hub. Along with two other properties, the total project includes 50 acres and 700,000 square feet of space.

• West-Herr Automotive Group paid $3.3 million to buy the West Herr Nissan Infiniti of Williamsville dealership at 8137 Main St., formerly Auto Place Infiniti Nissan, from a pair of revocable trusts for Carol and Daniel Fabrizio.

• 804 Wehrle Drive LLC paid $2.215 million to buy a retail property with a 9,100-square-foot Dollar General store at 804 Wehrle Drive in Amherst from Primax Properties LLC, which had purchased and redeveloped the parcel, formerly home to a 8,104-square-foot Italian restaurant.

• Colvin Oakdale LLC paid $1.7 million to buy the 6.42-acre Transit French Square Plaza, including a vacant former 68,337-square-foot Kmart store, at 1460 French Road in Cheektowaga, from 1460 French Road LLC. The rest of the plaza, located at the corner of Transit and French roads, and built in 1978, is fully occupied with tenants like Catalyst Fitness, Yings Wings, Off-Track Betting and Tantalize Tan.