Rogers Plaza gets a brand new owner

June 8, 2012
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The area’s longest-standing indoor shopping center finally has an owner.

More than two years after going into foreclosure, CB Richard Ellis of Grand Rapids revealed last week that it had brokered the sale of the Rogers Plaza Town Center.

“We feel good about it. It was a good situation for the bank to get to a successful close,” said Drew Miller, managing director of CBRE GR.

CBRE GR represented Citizens Bank of Jackson, Mich., and U.S. Bank, a division of U.S. Bancorp., in the sale to Sun Valley Ltd., a private investment firm that operates retail centers from its home base in San Antonio, Texas. The banks took possession of the 52-year-old, 365,500-square-foot shopping center at the southeast corner of 28th Street and Clyde Park Avenue in February 2010 after WexTrust Capital defaulted on its mortgage in 2009.

“We were appointed by the courts to work as the receiver when it went into foreclosure, and then hired by the banks to work on the leasing and management and then, ultimately, the sale of the property. We’ve been involved with it for the past several years,” said Bob Lotzar, a CBRE GR vice president.

Lotzar and CBRE Chairman and CEO Van Martin headed the sales team, which was staffed by Michael Martz, Daniel Sermak, Casie Pickle, Jennifer Kitchen and Tricia Foster.

“The bottom line is the banks wanted to make sure that the property had cash flow and was stabilized. So when we took over the receivership and then subsequently the management and leasing of it, we did just that. We basically put it in its best light so when we went to market to sell, we could track as many offers as possible, and we received several offers,” said Lotzar.

“It just so happened that Sun Valley was the party that the banks had the most confidence in and chose to work with,” he added.

Although a sale price wasn’t revealed, the shopping center’s State Equalized Value and Taxable Value were assessed at $7.21 million last year. In 2009, the SEV was nearly $11 million. Kent County records indicate that when the banks foreclosed on Rogers Plaza, about $14 million was owed on the mortgage. WexTrust Capital paid roughly $27 million for the shopping center about five years ago.

“Our ability to coordinate multiple commercial real estate services through a single provider was key. CBRE successfully positioned the asset in the marketplace while managing every operational detail. Their investment properties platform delivered quickly and at the right price point,” said Robert Porter, vice president of Citizens Bank, in a statement.

Lotzar said Sun Valley hasn’t revealed any planned changes for the shopping center. “I know that they’re happy with the current tenants and they’re also happy with the stability of the property. I’m sure they want to make some changes, if they can, in order to increase occupancy. But I don’t know if they have any grand, bold ideas just yet for that, or if that is one of their ideas,” he said.

The shopping center is about three-quarters filled. Office Max, Old Country Buffet, MC Sporting Goods and the Secretary of State’s office are some of its tenants. Rogers Plaza received a makeover in 2002 and then had its name changed to the Rogers Plaza Town Center. The mall is considered a key element in what the city of Wyoming describes as its downtown.

“I’m sure (city officials) will be happy there is a new day. Although I know that they were happy with Citizens Bank and our representation of the property because during our receivership and during the time the banks owned it and we managed it, at no time did the banks not do what we asked them to do in order to keep the property up to a very high caliber in order to attract new tenants and maintain the current tenants, so they renewed,” said Lotzar.

Lotzar added that Sun Valley will likely take over the leasing responsibility for Rogers. “The bottom line is, it was a long process but Rogers Plaza is a good asset,” he said. “And Sun Valley was happy to be able to secure it. I know that.”

WexTrust Capital was based in Chicago, but also had five other offices in the U.S. and one each in Israel and South Africa. According to 2009 court records, the company owned three hotels, 23 commercial properties in eight states, 10 residential and commercial real estate developments and two high-yield loan portfolios that contained 27 loans that were secured by many of its properties.

Hilco Real Estate LLC is selling what is left of WexTrust’s property portfolio, which includes 18 income-producing developments in Tennessee and Mississippi. Those properties are a mix of industrial and office buildings, with most being the single-tenant variety. The bid deadline on those properties is July 12. The Securities and Exchange Commission charged WexTrust’s top executives with having defrauded about 1,200 investors of an estimated $225 million in what the SEC called a Ponzi scheme.

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