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West Chester shopping center sells for $68.6M

Is third high-profile shopping center in Butler County to be sold in seven months.

The sale of yet another sizable shopping center here is a sign of a resurgent economy and the region’s drawing power, according to an area broker.

Voice of America Centre sold Friday, Oct. 31, for $68.6 million, according to the Butler County Auditor’s Office.

Located at the corner of Tylersville and Cox roads, the 435,000-square-foot shopping center opened in 2003.

Land owned by Target for its 125,000-square-foot store and owned by other businesses in the shopping center was not included in the transaction.

Voice of America Centre includes Target as its anchor, plus more than 60 other retail tenants including TJ Maxx, Fresh Market, Michael’s, Office Depot, Bath & Body Works and PetSmart. Dining options include Bonefish Grill, Geisha Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar and Milano’s Atlantic City Submarines.

“Shoppers will see no difference and Midland Atlantic will continue to manage and lease the shopping center,” said John Silverman, managing principal for Midland Atlantic, which has developed the shopping center since it opened.

Silverman, who said there was only one vacancy in the entire shopping center, declined to comment further on the center or its new owners, subsidiaries of MetLife Core Property Fund GP LLC. The seller in the recently closed deal was VOA I Development Co. LLC and VOA II Development Co. LLC, according to auditor’s office records.

This is the third high-profile shopping center in Butler County to be sold in seven months.

Bridgewater Falls in Fairfield Twp. was purchased in July by Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust, a real estate investment trust based in Farmington Hills, Mich. It paid $150 million total to buy Bridgewater Falls and another shopping center in Minnesota.

In April, an affiliate of American Realty Capital purchased Streets of West Chester for $35.7 million and more than 37 acres of adjacent land for $4.8 million.

John Stretch, managing broker of North Ridge Realty Group, said the spate of shopping centers changing hands is undoubtedly the product of the resurgence in the economy.

“Landlords are coming off some tough vacancies we had for a couple of years and the economy has definitely fueled filling these centers, replacing holes that existed there,” Stretch said. “You had tenants who were in there five or seven years, (then) the economy tanked and they left.”

But once the economy reignited, landlords backfilled shopping centers with new stores.

“Now they’re sitting on 100 percent occupancy and guess what? That’s the best time to sell,” Stretch said. “People are out lending money again and investors love this area.”

A selling point for Voice of America Centre was the number of new investments coming to the region. Those investments include the $350 million mega retail Liberty Center project, which is scheduled to open next October, as well as Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops announcing they would open West Chester Twp. locations in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Also helping sell the center was the $160 million expansion of Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus and new recreation opportunities brought to the region by the newly opened and neighboring Voice of America Park Athletic Complex, Stretch said.

Last month, three parcels of land in Liberty Twp. east of the Liberty Interchange sold for $17 million.

“It’s not just one item,” Stretch said. “It’s a culmination of many developments happening in our region.”