Sale of Cincinnati Mall for $93 Shows That Location is Still Paramount

Yesterday’s $93.3 million sale of the Sycamore Plaza/Sycamore Crossing shopping center in northeast suburban Cincinnati seems to be a sign that even in a troubled economy, in the right location a retail center can be highly recession-resistant. As reported in today’s Cincinnati Enquirer, the sale from RP Properties, Beverly Hills, Calif., to Regency Centers, Jacksonville, Fla., was presumably a very profitable one, since RP had bought the centers in 2004 for a figure reportedly in the area of $61.5 million. Sycamore Plaza was built in 1966 as an enclosed mall and converted in 1994 into a 355,000-square-foot, three-story shopping center. Current tenants include Barnes & Noble, Macy’s Furniture, Old Navy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Linens ‘N Things, Staples and Jared Jewelers. Sycamore Crossing is essentially three buildings constructed on outlots (the two centers share a parking lot) that total 35,000 square feet with tenants including Fresh Market, Starbucks, Verizon, FedEx and Sprint. A leasing agent with Regency’s Cincinnati office told the Enquirer that the company has no specific plans to renovate or expand either center. Although Cincinnati has of course been affected by the current recession, Roger Thornton, a director with the Cincinnati office of Integra Realty Resources, told CPN, the affluent area of Sycamore Township near Sycamore Plaza appears to be doing well. That location is “a prime retail market,” he said, with good access and visibility from I-71 and some high-income residential areas, such as Indian Hill, nearby. Moreover, Thornton noted, that area has seen ongoing retail construction, mostly renovations or infill projects, in the past couple of years. “That market just continues to thrive.” As one example, he cited General Growth Properties’ Kenwood Towne Center, which is across Montgomery Road and is undergoing a renovation and adding a Nordstrom store, the Cincinnati area’s first. In addition, construction began last year on the adjacent Kenwood Towne Place, a 580,000-square-foot, office/retail project that will include retail tenants Crate & Barrel and Kroger Fresh Fare. The developers are Bear Creek Capital, Neyer Holdings Corp. and DOV Ltd. Thornton also pointed out that Sycamore Plaza/Crossing still has some space to expand, and that rumors during the previous ownership suggested that a parking garage was one possibility. Of the 400-plus retail properties Regency owns nationwide, 11 are in the Cincinnati metro area, not counting this most recent acquisition. Those Cincy-area centers include Hyde Park Plaza in Oakley, Cherry Grove Plaza in Anderson Township and Beckett Commons in West Chester Township.