October 31, 2014

Maple Tree Place development sold for $103 million

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Illinois-based firm purchases shopping center

By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

An Illinois-based real estate company has purchased Maple Tree Place for a price topping $100 million, adding it to one of the country’s largest portfolios of shopping centers.

Rick Fox, a spokesman for the Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, confirmed that one of the company’s subsidiaries, Inland Western Retail Real Estate Trust, had bought the shopping center last month from Starwood Ceruzzi, the Connecticut real estate company that has owned the development since the 1990s.

Fox said the purchase price for the 71-acre parcel was $103.3 million. The property was recently reappraised at a value of $42.2 million — an increase of nearly $6 million over the year before, according to assistant town assessor Dick Ransom.

Fox said the appeal of the Maple Tree Place development was obvious.

“What’s not to like about this property?” he said. “Inland Western bought more than a half-million square feet of some of the top names in retail in an area that continues to grow.”

Maple Tree Place has developed into one of the state’s largest commercial developments, featuring national retailers like Best Buy and Staples, a 10-screen movie theater and tens of thousands of square feet of office space. It also has a residential component — a 50-unit affordable housing complex.

More development is permitted at the Maple Tree Place parcel. Fox said Inland Western is developing a strategy for continuing to build out the property.

“There is a plan for the additional land and we will be working with the sellers on that development as it moves forward,” Fox said.

Inland Real Estate Group has more than $10 billion in assets and manages more than 95 million square feet of commercial space, according to the company’s Web site. Shopping Centers Today, a trade publication, ranked Inland as the fifth-largest owner and operator of shopping centers in the U.S.

Fox said Maple Tree Place shoppers will see few changes as a result of Inland Western’s purchase. He said the public should expect growth at the shopping center, but no major remodeling of the relatively new development.

“The real difference that people will notice is the continued development, but as far as the rest of the property is concerned, the average shopper won’t notice the change at all,” Fox said.

Fox said the closing date on the sale was May 20. The Williston Town Clerk’s Office had not received a property transfer form as of Tuesday, nor was Town Planner Lee Nellis aware if a sale had occurred, though he said, “I’m 99 percent sure something has happened.”

Cindy Ellis, senior vice president and associate general counsel at Starwood Ceruzzi, did not return a phone message seeking comment on the transaction.

Starwood Ceruzzi and the town of Williston have had ongoing discussions for months about whether Maple Tree Place has met several of the project’s original conditions of approval. Nellis said the conditions would not change with a change in ownership.

“Any new buyer would still have a legal obligation to meet the conditions of approval,” Nellis said in April.

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