MetLife Wins Bid to Purchase Prime Orlando-Area Retail Center

MetLife Inc. continues its real estate equity diversification program with the acquisition of an outdoor retail center in Kissimmee, Fla., for $116.9 million.

The LoopMetLife Inc. continues its real estate equity diversification program with the acquisition of The Loop, a 435,000-square-foot outdoor retail center in Kissimmee, Fla. MetLife purchased the Class A asset, sited approximately 15 miles south of Orlando, from AEW Capital Management in a transaction valued at $116.9 million.

Commercial real estate and capital markets services provider HFF marketed the 57-acre property on behalf of the seller, and found no shortage of suitors for what the firm describes as “one of the highest quality retail investment opportunities in the Southeast.” MetLife acknowledges that snapping up a premier retail centers in the current real estate climate is no cakewalk.

“It is highly competitive for almost any well-anchored, well-located and well-positioned retail properties given the abundance of equity capital seeking high quality real estate assets,” a spokesperson for MetLife Real Estate Investors, MetLife’s real estate arm, told Commercial Property Executive. “We do not see that changing in the immediate future.”

Developed in 2005, The Loop changed hands just one year later when AEW acquired the property from the Wilder Cos. for $104.9 million. Today, the center is 99 percent leased to a roster of 43 tenants, CVS, Kohl’s, Petco and The Sports Authority among them.

MetLife will most certainly make many more purchases in the retail sector in the near future. “In terms of investing in retail centers, we are looking at major metro areas as well as secondary and tertiary markets that fit with major retailers’ marketing or sales strategies,” the spokesperson said. “Those are usually driven by the specific demographics of a given area.”

MetLife, which counts office properties as a large percentage of its real estate portfolio, is not only mixing it up with the addition of high-quality retail, the company is also increasing its holdings in the industrial sector. In July, the insurance giant revealed that, in a joint venture with Panattoni Development Co., it will develop the 3 million-square-foot Lambert Farms Distribution Center near Atlanta at a cost of $110 million.