Buyer claims Manassas shopping center

By Danielle Douglas
Monday, March 7, 2011

Black Oak Associates, an Owings Mills, Md., retail developer and investor, has snagged the Hastings Marketplace shopping center in Manassas as part of a $21.6 million deal for a stalled mixed-used development of the same name that fell victim to the credit crunch.

The 95,000-square-foot retail strip is part of a larger, 29-acre project, located at the juncture of Prince William Parkway and Lake Jackson Drive, that was put up for sale in late 2009.

R. Dixon H. Harvey Jr., president of Black Oak, said the company had long set its sights on the shopping center. "We were drawn to it because it's a great-looking center and a well-conceived project," he said. "We like it for the long-term potential."

Anchored by a 56,000-square-foot Harris Teeter, Hastings is typical of the six other properties in Black Oak's portfolio. The privately held company specializes in the acquisition and development of specialty, community and regional shopping centers in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Hastings is the second acquisition Black Oak has closed in the past four months. Back in November, the company picked up South Cumberland Marketplace, a 130,000-square-foot shopping complex in Baltimore, for $3.75 million.

Black Oak is working with broker Jim Farrell of the Rappaport Cos. in McLean to bring Hastings, which is currently 73 percent occupied by such tenants as Bank of America and Verizon Wireless, to capacity.

"Leasing momentum has picked up significantly since Harris Teeter opened," Farrell said. "We signed a lease with Medifast Weight Loss and are negotiating a number of leases with excellent, neighborhood-serving uses." These retailers, whose names Farrell would not divulge, include a casual dining restaurant, hair salon, pizza shop and spa.

Rappaport was entrusted with managing and leasing the shopping center in September 2009, shortly after Rockville-based developer Opus East LLC handed the keys back to the lender, U.S. Bank, and filed for Chapter 7 liquidation.

Opus East, a subsidiary of the Minnesota-based Opus Group, had spent the previous four years planning and assembling the project, which called for single-family homes, loft apartments and commercial space. The construction lender, however, pulled the financing in early 2009 once the property's value, like most other developments at that time, plummeted.

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