The Aurora Center in West St. Paul recently won the Deal of the Year award, presented by the MNCAR Awards Program.
The Tenant brokers were Tom Martin of Cushman & Wakefield | NorthMarq and John Kalamaras of Realsource Partners. The brokers representing the landlord were Brad Kaplan and Kim Meyer of Cushman & Wakefield | NorthMarq.
- The 4.2 acre assemblage included a former Bowling alley parcel, a former strip center parcel owned by Aurora Investments, and parking rights on a former equipment rental parcel. The City of West St. Paul acquired the Bowling Alley parcel through condemnation and transferred title to Aurora. The City also acquired the equipment rental parcel, retaining ownership but granting necessary unilateral parking rights for the project.
- Three existing leases encumbered the strip center site: FedEx, Darque Tan and Payless were all relocated to a new 11,700sf strip center on site before demolition and site work could commence for the 35,000sf anchor, LA Fitness. All three tenants had to renew or blend/extend at the new building, and would only do so without a disruption in business. Aurora had no relocation rights as a part of the existing leases. This three-party relocation was accomplished successfully, as all three tenants opened in their new space in November, 2014.
- Arriving at a mutually agreeable site plan was contentious – The City, Aurora, LA Fitness and the small shop tenants all had their desires. The Zoning Code mandated that the new buildings border the major road (Robert St.) while the tenants all desired a plan that allowed the customer to easily understand and visualize the new storefronts and parking layout. As it became evident the City was not going to be flexible, the tenants acquiesced, but not without additional RE committee review.
- The timing of the project involved:
- Site Acquisition (condemnation of Bowling Alley, separate purchase by City of parking parcel)
- Plan Approval by all parties
- 4 new/amended leases with new economics
- Demolition of bowling alley and remediation
- Construction of new strip building and relocation of 3 existing tenants
- Demolition and site work for anchor pad without business interruption of operating tenants
- Construction of Anchor building to commence in March of 2015 for a Fall ’15 opening
- Project start to finish – 34 months
When asked what lesson they could pass along to other real estate professionals, the brokers stated that lengthy, complicated deals are the new norm!
This post was written by Sara Meddock, with information from Tom Martin. Tom Martin is a senior director with Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq. Tom focuses on tenant representation services to retail clients.