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Five plazas anchored by Tops Markets for sale

Five retail plazas anchored by Tops Markets stores – two in the immediate Buffalo area – are going on the auction block, as the mortgage owners that took over the properties seeks to unload them quickly.

The plazas are listed for sale on, with starting bids ranging from $1.9 million to $5.5 million. They include the University Plaza at 3500 Main St. in Amherst, the D&L Plaza at 5175 Broadway in Depew, as well as the Southside Plaza at 708-744 Foote Ave. in Jamestown and a shopping center in Cortland and another in Erie, Pa.

All five were owned by Phillips Edison & Co., a Cincinnati-based, publicly traded real estate investment trust that owns more than 270 neighborhood shopping centers and retail properties in 34 states nationwide. And many were profitable, including University, D&L and Cortland, said Milton DeBoth of Pyramid Brokerage Company of Buffalo, who is also part of the team of brokers handling the auction.

But they were collateral for part of a pool of 39 mortgages that were packaged and sold on Wall Street to investors. And some of the loans failed, dragging the entire pool down and forcing Phillips Edison to give up the properties to the special servicer, LNR Partners LLC, in lieu of a foreclosure.

Now, LNR is trying to unload them, one by one, to recoup the mortgage losses for its investors. A bulk sale is still possible but less likely because there aren’t that many buyers capable of taking the whole portfolio at once.

“The decision was made to sell them off independently as opposed to doing a bulk sale, because of their geographic diversity,” DeBoth said. “They felt that it would give an opportunity for both local and regional investors to bid on the asset.”

All five are anchored by Tops stores, but with other tenants as well. University Plaza, with 165,277 square feet on 7.7 acres, is about 95 percent occupied by long-term tenants, with two bank branches, the three-screen Amherst Theatre, and a freestanding McDonald’s restaurant. Located directly across from University at Buffalo’s South Campus, it has five buildings.

D&L, the dominant retail plaza in Lancaster and Depew, has 148,245 square feet on 12.58 acres, and is 98 percent occupied, including Big Lots and Seasonal Hallmark. It includes three major structures and an empty bank branch.

Colliers International, another brokerage firm, is handling the sales for the Jamestown and Erie properties. Southside, with 63,140 square feet in two buildings on 5.19 acres, is 91 percent leased with seven tenants in all. Others include McDonald’s and UPS Store.

“A local or regional investor, they understand the asset, they feel more comfortable with the area, and there’s also economies of scale, because they have the infrastructure set up, so that may lend to a higher price,” DeBoth said. “We’re getting a lot of activity. There’s not many opportunities for a grocery-anchored, neighborhood shopping center like these.”