Part of Middletown mall has new owner

Shoppers exit Gabe’s department store, one of the tenants of the Towne Mall Galleria in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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Shoppers exit Gabe’s department store, one of the tenants of the Towne Mall Galleria in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

A Florida real estate group recently snapped up part of Middletown’s Towne Mall Galleria.

Orlando-based Phoenicia Development purchased a 111,020-square-foot section of the mall on April 10 for $8.25 million, according to the Warren County Auditor’s Office.

That portion of the mall is 3455 Towne Blvd., which is now Burlington Coat Factory, which opened in March 2015, and discount retailer Gabe’s, which in October 2015 in place of Dillard’s.

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The purchase was made as Byblos Development Ohio LLC, which is listed in property records with the same address as Phoenicia Development.

CEO Tom Harb said the property is “a good investment” for Phoenicia.

“It’s a good area for growth and this mall has been sitting idle for quite some time and the new developer is making a lot of activities in it and that’s why we think it’s a good opportunity for us,” Harb said.

Since purchasing the mall in 2012, a California investment group led by George Ragheb has worked to fill space in the mall by securing leases from Burlington Coat Factory (March 2015, nearly 11-year lease), Gabe's (October 2015, 11-year lease) and fitness center Planet Fitness (January 2016, 20-year lease).

That investment group also has worked to bring development to outparcels in front of the shopping mall by selling property to an outside developer, which built and opened Buffalo Wild Wings and Aspen Dental Group.

Although the mall has enjoyed a series of openings in recent years, retail giant Elder-Beerman closed there in January.

PREVIOUS REPORT: Elder-Beerman closes Middletown location

Phoenicia Development has more than 30 years of experience with real estate development, including retail and mixed use, Harb said.

Purchase of the property does nothing to affect the leases of Gabe’s and Burlington Coat Factory.

“It’s a revenue income producing property and that’s all that we care about. That’s all that we’re looking at,” Harb said. “Brand leases and brand new tenants.”

The investment in the Towne Mall Galleria property by Phoenicia follows two other property acquisitions by the company within the last month, including $5.6 million on March 27 for land near Interstate 70 and the Englewood Meijer store in Englewood, Montgomery County property records show.

The company also paid just over $3 million the same day for land at 192 Ohio 48, also identified in county property records as a Meijer outlot.

RELATED: Florida developer pays $5.6M for Englewood properties

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