Atlanta real-estate firm buys Cross Country Plaza on Macon Road

Coro Realty Advisors, two investment firms purchase Midtown shopping center after major renovation

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comJune 10, 2013 

Cross Country Plaza, the city’s oldest shopping center, has been purchased by an Atlanta-based real-estate firm in a joint venture with two other investment companies.

Coro Realty Advisors, along with G.H. Anderson & Co. and Bavin Southeast Investments, closed the deal June 5 on the 56-year-old center on Macon Road. It was acquired from Glenwood Development Co., which has offices in Atlanta and Huntersville, N.C. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We bought Cross Country Plaza below replacement cost, and as a core-plus property with upside,” John Lundeen, president of Coro Realty, said in a statement. “Core plus” means the purchasing companies are taking a moderate risk with their investment, with plans for more upgrades to the property to improve its overall value.

Specifically, Coro Realty said it will focus on filling empty storefronts, while “strategically renovating and re-tenanting” portions of the 368,360-square-foot shopping center.

“What we’re going to try to do in the next six to 12 months is sign some leases and bring in additional tenants to backfill some of the vacancies,” said Robert Fransen, Coro Realty’s chief investment officer. “At the same time that we do that, we’ll probably try to shift around some of the existing tenants to create a better lineup for everybody because, ultimately, our goal is to have a center where everybody does well.”

Glenwood Development bought Cross Country Plaza in 2004 for $20.8 million, then began working to fill vacancies that included a large space that years ago was home to retailer Service Merchandise.

A multimillion-dollar renovation was completed last year, a project that included shifting the existing Publix supermarket to the old Service Merchandise and CVS Pharmacy space. Then Glenwood lured retailer T.J.Maxx from another Macon Road shopping center to fill a large portion of the former Publix space. Outparcel buildings were also added for tenants Wells Fargo, AT&T Wireless and Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin-Robbins.

Cross Country also is anchored by OfficeMax and Freedom Furniture & Electronics, although it recently lost Blockbuster Video amid that retailer’s global store downsizing.

“That’s one of the spaces that there’s been a lot of interest in, just because of where it is and the visibility,” Fransen said.

The Coro Realty executive said Glenwood Development did a very nice job of putting the shopping center on sound footing and setting up stable cash flow.

The new owner said 58 percent of the center’s tenants are national brands that comprise 70 percent of income flow. In a separate statistic, it said tenants that have been there a decade or longer make up 56 percent of the property’s income.

Fransen said Coro Realty wants to improve on the overall mix, however, particularly in the section of Cross Country that stretches from Radio Shack and Freedom Furniture around to longtime restaurant tenant Deorio’s.

“There’s some spaces in there that are just chopped up weirdly and some of the tenants just aren’t necessarily the right size,” he said. “Some of the tenants maybe are a little too big and some are a little too small. We think there also are some logical entrants that aren’t in the market.”

The real-estate company already is in discussions with half a dozen national tenants interested in spaces ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 square feet, said Fransen, who noted the improvements in general that have occurred in the Midtown area near Cross Country Plaza as a selling point for his firm’s purchase.

Those include the city’s main library, the Muscogee County School District headquarters and the new City Services Center. A new natatorium, or swimming facility, also is nearing completion on the site.

“The city clearly has invested a lot of money in the area, and we always like to see that,” he said.

Coro Realty, which was founded in 1997, has more than two dozen retail shopping properties in its portfolio, most of them in the Atlanta market. It also has a few apartments, condos and mixed-use retail and office properties in the mix.

Fransen said his company is looking forward to becoming a part of the local area.

“What we’re trying to do is capitalize on what’s there today — which we think is very attractive and very solid — improve it where we can, and be a long-term member of the community,” he said.

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