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Glazer goes minimall shopping

The Bucs owner wants to add a baseball team to his portfolio, but strip shopping centers also have his investment eye.

By MARK ALBRIGHT
Published May 22, 2003

LAS VEGAS - Whatever comes of Malcolm Glazer's reported effort to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, the owner of the Tampa Bay Bucs is busy buying strip shopping centers as fast as he can.

The West Palm Beach billionaire's First Allied Corp. has earmarked $500-million to buy small community shopping centers this year, going for properties worth $3-million and up.

And the goal is even more ambitious.

"Ideally we would like to buy a $1-billion portfolio from one seller," Glazer's company said in a brochure distributed at the deal-making session here of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

For the first time, the Glazers had a booth at the annual trade show, and they made the most of their newfound celebrity as the owners of an NFL champion. They rented a plasma-screen TV to show Super Bowl highlights nonstop, and displayed the Super Bowl trophy.

Their brochure boasted that the Glazers flew 100 commercial real estate brokers for a behind-the-scenes NFL weekend in Tampa last November. And they gave a pair of Super Bowl tickets to each broker who sold them a shopping center in 2002.

Shopping center owners hoping to score some face time with a Bucs player at the Las Vegas show had to settle for Malcolm's son Ed.

"Unfortunately, the team is in training camp this week," said Matt Kaiser, First Allied acquisition manager.

Malcolm Glazer's empire was rooted in owning mobile home parks, nursing homes and other income-producing real estate, so it's not a surprise that the family is now into collecting small shopping centers. Its holdings have doubled to 45 nationally since April 2001.

Low interest rates, a slack economy and a beaten-down stock market have sent investors flocking to retail real estate. Retail real estate investment trusts have outperformed the stock market for the past year. In 2002, shopping centers chalked up a 14.5 percent return nationally, according to Marcus & Millichap, an Atlanta brokerage and research firm.

Although the Glazers clearly enjoy the glamour of professional football, and potentially of owning a baseball franchise in Los Angeles, they are not looking for glitz in their shopping center portfolio.

They want no-muss, no-fuss centers already filled with long-term tenants. They want real estate in well-developed areas where there is little space for competitors. They offer cash and a closing within 30 days.

The Glazers' portfolio includes eight Kmarts and many grocery stores and spreads across 16 states. The smallest acquisition was a center in Norfolk, Va., that sold for $3.7-million. The biggest was an Atlanta project for $27.5-million anchored by a Regal Cinema, Macaroni Grill and Rio Bravo restaurants and a Starbucks coffee shop.

One of Allied's biggest purchases last year did not fit the investment criteria. The family paid $22.9-million for Tampa Bay Center, the abandoned regional shopping mall near Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Kaiser said the Glazers have several spinoff ideas percolating in addition to a Bucs training facility on the 80-acre mall property, but nothing solid to talk about yet.

- Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

[Last modified May 22, 2003, 01:30:54]

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