Ellicott City retail center is AMB's target San Francisco firm seeks to buy Long Gate for $48 million LTC

November 01, 1996|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

A San Francisco-based pension fund consultant is working to acquire one of several new Howard County retail centers devoted to value-conscious shopping for roughly $48 million, its second major purchase in the Baltimore area.

AMB Institutional Realty Advisors' pending purchase of the Long Gate shopping center in Ellicott City comes as various local real estate developers are completing or planning so-called "power centers" in the region.

"It's one of the more attractive opportunities for a pension fund advisor and one of the most formidable centers in the area, because of its tenants, size, the surrounding area, its access and the quality of its construction," said Adam Miller, a KLNB Inc. principal responsible for leasing Long Gate. "It's what we in the industry call a bullet-proof project."

In the Baltimore-Washington corridor alone, three such centers have either recently been completed or are finishing construction, resulting from the emergence of discount-oriented retailers such as Target Stores Inc., Best Buy Co. and Baby Superstore.

At Long Gate, developer Opus East LLC completed the $40 million, 414,000-square-foot project -- anchored by Target, Safeway, M. J. Design and Barnes & Noble -- late last month. Opus East officials declined to comment on the AMB sale.

Miller added that Long Gate's long-term leases with so-called "credit worthy" tenants such as Target avoid risks typically found in shopping centers.

But as their popularity has soared, investors have begun to view mammoth power centers cautiously.

"We're focusing more on grocer and drug-anchored centers, because they're less likely to become obsolete," said Bill Marino, an AMB vice president of acquisitions. "But we are interested in well-located power centers that have strong tenants and grocery components."

If the Long Gate acquisition is completed, it would represent AMB's second major Baltimore-area purchase on behalf of pension fund clients. In September 1993, AMB spent $17.1 million to acquire Techwood at BWI, a five-building, 490,000-square-foot office and warehouse complex near Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Pub Date: 11/01/96

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