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Owner calls it quits at troubled Westlake shopping center

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Lost department store chain Steinmart store shut down In 2020, the owner of Westlake’s Neighborhood Center turned the property over to a lessor after failing to sign up a replacement tenant.

Brian Burton, manager of former owner Westlake Home Improvements Associates, said in a telephone interview.

In 1974, Burton led the development of a neighborhood shopping center at 25001-25099 Center Ridge Road with 12 partners.

“We were about $15,000 short each month,” says Burton. “I held it for two years until I ran out of money.”

The new owners of the square are Rialto Capital Management, is a specialized servicer that processes bad debts for lenders, especially those issued through the CMBS market. Cuyahoga County land records show that Rialto acquired ownership of the property on Sept. 26 through an affiliate called RSS CFCRE2-6-C4-OH WHIA LLC. Rialto, who manages properties through its Miami office, also serves as an asset manager.

CoStar, an online real estate data provider, reports that the loan, which was originally $4 million, has $3.5 million owed. CoStar said the loan he is 90 days past due.

The public giveaway to the giveback is that another independent broker, Cushman & Wakefield Cresco, has started marketing the vacant space with a sign that was just posted on the site. We would like to lease 51,000 feet of space. Steinmart has been occupied since 1998 Another 9,000 square feet of space. In addition, he has seven tenants, three of which are rented out as offices, occupying the rest of the center.

Ryan Fisher, senior vice president of Cushman & Wakefield Cresco, declined to comment on the property.

There are two big problems with squares that cause problems. For one, the Stein Mart space is so large that it has little prospect for mainstream retail, and the small space is too deep for most smaller retailers. Another is that its location on Center Ridge Road is away from the main retail locations.

“It’s between the Crag and Columbia roads, both of which have access to Interstate 90,” said David Bruening, principal at Stanford Properties in Beachwood, which has handled property leasing in the past. But also between Fairview Park and North Olmsted Retail District.

“Then Crocker Park was developed in Westlake,” Bruning said of the large mixed-use center. “You just couldn’t compete.”

Tori Nook, principal of Anchor Cleveland’s retail real estate and investment brokerage firm, describes the location as “a hyper-secondary location. Unless someone with special needs, like the Cleveland Clinic, shows up, you’ll be is in trouble,” he said.

She said it would be possible to replenish them if the available spaces were smaller.

“There are some tenants across the country who can’t get into the Crocker Road location,” Nook said. “Most of the[shopping center]landlords I work with have higher occupancy rates than ever before. If this was a small store space, it would fill up.”

An example is nearby. The smaller King James Plaza across from the Stein Mart Plaza has plenty of tenants.

Michelle Boczek, Westlake’s economic development manager, was surprised that the plaza’s ownership had changed through proxy.

“We tried to get other retailers interested in (Steinmart) Plaza, but we couldn’t get their attention,” Bocek said.

There’s a reason why Steinmart has occupied so much space for over 20 years.

Burton said it was originally a furniture store. Barton said the city has blocked some prospects for spaces such as daycare centers and rifle ranges.

Jim Bedell, Westlake’s head of planning and economic development, said in most cases, suburbs do not allow day care centers in shopping centers for safety reasons.

Bedell said he wasn’t familiar with bidding for the shooting range. But adding such uses would require changes to city laws banning individuals from firing firearms within its borders, he said.

There’s no indication if Rialto might sell the center as it sits on a 10-acre lot in a declining suburb.

“They will sell it. The question is when that will be,” said Alec Pacela, president of NAI Pleasant Valley Securities in Independence. Like other experts, he thinks it’s a good property because of the wealthy neighborhoods nearby.

“The question is what happens next,” he said. “I don’t think it’s backfilled with other retail tenants.”

Rialto did not respond to two phone calls regarding the property by 1:00 p.m. Thursday, October 6, nor did it respond to an email posted on the company’s website.

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