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Smith’s buys Mari-Mac shopping center

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By Carol A. Clark

Smith’s Food & Drug Centers, Inc., has purchased the bulk of the property in Mari-Mac Village between Central Avenue and Trinity Drive. 

Title Guaranty & Insurance Company at 1200 Trinity Dr., filed the special warranty deed in the Los Alamos County Clerk’s office conveying the property from Developers Diversified Realty of Ohio to Smith’s June 3. The plat indicating the perimeters of the property sold was filed in the clerk’s office July 9.

“We are the title company that issued the title and title insurance on the property,” Escrow Assistant Curtis Valencia said this morning. “We cannot disclose the sale price.”

The county clerk’s office explained that New Mexico is a nondisclosure state, meaning the sale price is not required on the deed.

Unofficial estimates put the sale price at $8.5-$9 million.

The only space Smith’s did not purchase in Mari-Mac Village is the 800 Trinity Building on the corner where Daniel’s Café, Ulli’s and other stores and offices are located.

“That’s a condominium building with multiple owners,” said Executive Director Kevin Holsapple of the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation.

Holsapple has been tracking the Mari-Mac sale and provided some perspective during an interview this morning.

“The tenants have been getting notices of the sale and we’ve been working with them on opportunities to clear up some unresolved issues with the former landlord during the transition,” he said.

Holsapple does not think the sale means any significant change to the shopping center where Smith’s has been leasing the largest space for several years.

He explained going back to when Furr’s occupied the space that a separate drug store operated next door and encompassed what is now Smith’s produce department.

“One of the motivations was that Smith’s ended up with two-thirds of their space being under one lease with one end date and the other third of their space being on another lease with a different end date,” Holsapple said. “Smith’s does not typically like to own shopping centers, it’s not part of their business model, but this was one of the motivations for them to clear up the lease problem. Also, Smith’s now has an asset where before they were a renter.”

Another reason was a window of opportunity created by the economic downturn. Developers Diversified Realty has been under stress because they are a public company and their stock value dropped significantly as a result of the economic downturn, he said.

Holsapple does not believe Smith’s will make any changes to their current store.

The company is interested in expanding into a super store to include general merchandise, he said, but the size of the store they have in mind is larger than the entire square footage of the row of stores that includes Smith’s, Auto Zone, Beall’s and the former Blockbuster’s.

They are interested in moving across the street into the Trinity Site development area, Holsapple said. 

“They are only willing to do that if they can get a lease rate that is affordable and rational for them to pay,” he said.

Another possibility, he said, is that they may eventually sell off parts of the Mari-Mac shopping center and stay where they are for the duration.

Spokesperson Marsha Gilford from Smith’s Salt Lake City headquarters said this morning that her state is celebrating Pioneer Day and those individuals involved in the purchase were out of reach this morning. The company will release a statement next week, Gilford said.

Betsy Keck of Developers Diversified Realty’s corporate office in Beechwood, Ohio was unable to get her statement vetted before press time.

Smith’s Food & Drug Centers, Inc., is owned by the Kroger Company of Ohio, which is considered one of the largest retail food companies in the United States as measured by total annual sales.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her newsblog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.