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Published: Thursday, 9/5/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Target shopping center sold

$8.55M paid for 27.5 acres; vacant theater to be razed

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The long-vacant movie theater on Monroe Street in Sylvania Township will be razed, and a 66,000-square-foot retail strip will be built in their place, according to the new owners of the property. The long-vacant movie theater on Monroe Street in Sylvania Township will be razed, and a 66,000-square-foot retail strip will be built in their place, according to the new owners of the property.
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The Shops at Franklin Place, commonly known as the Target shopping center, has been sold.

The buyer is a local real estate investment trust that plans to renovate and redevelop the 23-year-old center on Monroe Street in Sylvania Township.

Devonshire REIT, of Whitehouse, said Wednesday that it paid $8.55 million for the 27.5-acre property at 5235 Monroe St.

The seller was National Amusements Inc. of Dedham, Mass., which owned the parcel since the 1960s. It once had a drive-in theater there, then the Franklin Park Cinemas, which closed in 2005.

“We’ve had our eye on this site for some time,” said Doug Dymarkowski, vice president and general counsel for Devonshire REIT, which was formed in 2009 as a private equity firm and converted to a real estate investment trust in 2013.

This “is exciting for us because we’re all local guys. It’s a local project. ... We’ve all shopped there,” he said. “We will be working with local contractors and local banks on this. We’re very excited about this.”

The attorney said the trust began negotiating in March for the property, which has 242,000 square feet of retail space. The deal was concluded Wednesday.

Mr. Dymarkowski said Devonshire REIT has been working for several months on plans for the site.

The real estate trust, which owns 34 properties and $170 million in shopping center and other real estate assets in the Great Lakes and Midwest regions, has secured four letters of intent from retailers.

One is a national retailer that plans to occupy the 50,000-square-foot former Media Play store by Nov. 1. Three others are to occupy a 66,000-square-foot retail strip to be built where the long-vacant Franklin Park Cinemas sit.

“Obviously, you can’t go into a deal without knowing you’ve got some decent tenants, and if you’re going to redevelop you can’t do it without knowing how much space people are going to need,” the attorney said.

Mr. Dymarkowski declined to name the four retailers, but said that two will be new to the Toledo market. The current tenants — Target, Golf Galaxy, OfficeMax, and Shoe Carnival — all have indicated they plan to remain in the center beyond the refurbishment planned by Devonshire REIT.

The theaters, Mr. Dymarkowski added, will be demolished.

“After we take down the cinemas, which is our number one priority, then part of our construction financing is going to go to refurbish some of the existing center. It’s not a bad-looking center, but we want to spruce it up,” he said.

The Target store is expected to have new neighbors this year. The Target store is expected to have new neighbors this year.
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The Shops at Franklin Place’s history dates back to 1946 when the rural site became home to the Toledo Drive-In, rechristened the Franklin Park Auto Theater in 1959.

Theater chain owner Sumner Redstone bought the site in 1963, renamed it the Franklin Park Drive-In and kept it operating until 1986. Mr. Redstone built the Franklin Park Cinemas in 1971. The company closed the theater in 2005 when it opened a multiplex in the Westfield Franklin Park mall.

In 1983, National Amusements built Razz-Ma-Tazz adjacent to the theaters. The restaurant, which featured robotic characters, pizza, and arcade games, closed after a few years. In 1989 National Amusement razed the drive-in to redevelop the property into the existing retail center. Target, the primary tenant, opened in 1990.

Steve Serchuk, a commercial real estate agent who has been marketing the Shops at Franklin Place on behalf of National Amusements since 2005, said Devonshire REIT’s plans will benefit every retailer along the Monroe Street corridor.

“They have a very aggressive redevelopment plan to bring new retailers to the market and help existing retailers,” said Mr. Serchuk, a retail expert with the Toledo office of Signature Associates Inc.

“I think it takes things up a notch. It takes almost seven acres of land that have been sitting vacant — the theater parcel, which is the most prime property for redevelopment in the Toledo market in my opinion — and develops that land,” he said.

“I’m excited. It’s good for the Monroe Street corridor and it’s good for [Westfield] Franklin Park. This will take that corridor up another notch as being the premier retail area in Toledo,” he added.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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