NEWARK – Newark Shopping Center, a grocery-and-movie-theater-anchored shopping plaza in the heart of the city’s downtown, has been sold for $33.5 million.
The 145,400-square-foot shopping center at 230 E. Main St. had been on the market for nearly three years, following the conclusion of an extensive renovation project – the first at the plaza in about 50 years. The buyer was not disclosed in a sale announcement, but county land records reveal the buyer is Maryland Financial Investors, an investment firm that owns and manages a portfolio of retail, office and industrial properties across the mid-Atlantic region.
Built in 1955, the center was acquired by a partnership of Atlantic Realty Company and New York investment firm Angelo Gordon in 2008. The Virginia-based Atlantic Realty sold off the Blue Hen Lanes bowling alley, which was redeveloped into One Easton, an off-campus, high-rise apartment complex aimed at University of Delaware students, and invested $10 million into renovations of the shopping center.
Atlantic Realty saw a 186% sale-to-sale return on its initial roughly $11.7 million acquisition in 2008, or a roughly 54% return when accounting for its renovation costs, according to land records.
Today, the 11.9-acre center is 93% occupied with 31 tenants, according to Neuman Commercial Group, the Maryland-based brokerage that listed the property.
In 2015, the center secured its new anchor grocery store when the Newark Natural Foods store relocated from Main Street. A year later, Main Street Movies revamped the aging movie theater to continue drawing patrons as well.
More recently, Chase Bank opened one of its few Delaware brick-and-mortar branches in the shopping center and One Easton was acquired by KKR, a New York-based private equity firm, for $73 million. Meanwhile, Churrascaria Saudades, a Brazilian steakhouse, recently left its space in the shopping center to move to a spot in the Christiana Fashion Center near the Christiana Mall.
Adam Schulman, principal at Atlantic Realty Companies, credited the involvement of residents, local leaders and elected officials in helping to revitalize the second oldest shopping center in Delaware.
“The last improvements to the center were over 50 years ago and we worked with the tenants and the community to update the center to meet the needs of today. A few of the major improvements to the center included completely renovating and expanding the cinema, providing direct connectivity to the Pomeroy Trail, and adding a walkable multifamily housing component to the site. In addition to working with the citizen leaders, Atlantic personnel had the opportunity to meet and work with Marilyn Minister, one of the original 1955 tenants of Newark Shopping Center, and U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, who grew up in the area,” he said in a statement.
Gil Neuman, principal of Neuman Commercial Group, said the university’s COVID shutdown paused the firm’s first marketing process, but ownership worked with tenants to assist them through the challenging times.
“This resulted in fortifying what had already been a strong rent roll. There was strong interest in Newark Shopping Center and Atlantic worked closely with a top buyer who closed as promised, albeit during a late-breaking interest rate surge,” he added in a statement.