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Secondary market investor buys half-million-sq.-ft. center outside of Mobile

Al Urbanski
Eastern Shore Center is anchored by Belk, Dillards, and Barnes & Noble.

An investment capital firm that acquires prime retail properties in secondary and tertiary markets has picked up a 540,000-sq.-ft. lifestyle center in Alabama, across the bay from Mobile.

Savannah-based Wicker Park Capital Management (WPCM) has acquired the Eastern Shore Center, anchored by Belk and Dillards in Spanish Fort, an upscale suburb with a median household income of $98,000. The town was the site of a French trading post in the 18th Century.

Wicker Park has appointed Crawford Square Real Estate Advisors to lease and manage the center

"Given the growth in the region, now is an opportune time to reposition Eastern Shore Centre as the dominant outdoor shopping center in Mobile and Baldwin County,” said Wicker Park’s managing director Tom Jackson. “Crawford Square has the management, marketing and leasing expertise to execute our business plan to enhance the center’s merchandising, trade area and ultimately deliver exceptional service to both tenants and shoppers.”

Crawford Square partner and head of leasing Mary Beyer Lell said her company intended to enliven the experience level at Eastern Shore. 

"Our team plans to create memorable community events and elevate the shopping experience at Eastern Shore," she declared. “Our proven track record in leasing and marketing properties will be instrumental in attracting and retaining top-tier tenants.”

WPCM targets investments in emerging secondary and tertiary markets in the Southeast that have growing economies and are not widely courted by institutional investors. 

“The lack of institutional investors, who are tasked with placing capital with lower return requirements, creates opportunities for WPCM to acquire assets at attractive valuations, at or below replacement cost, that offer higher current cash returns relative to larger markets and potential for capital appreciation,” according to a description of WPCM’S investment strategy on the company’s website.

Other tenants at Eastern Shore Center include Barnes & Noble, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Kirkland’s Home, Stock & Trade Design Co., Chico’s, Loft, Mountain High Outfitters, Men’s Wearhouse, Half Shell Oyster House, and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

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