Early ’11 investment real estate activity percolates

We’ve completed the first quarter of 2011, and there have been several sale transactions in the greater Manchester and southern New Hampshire area involving investment real estate.One of the biggest was the sale of the Derry Meadows neighborhood strip center to Katz Properties of New York. This center, anchored by Hannaford, includes almost 150,000 square feet of retail space. The selling price was reportedly more than $21 million.Two office buildings in Bedford also changed hands. The mirrored glass building at 166 South River Road (known to many as the AAA Building) sold to Robert Finlay for $2,350,000, or about $95 per square foot, and the building at 35 Constitution Drive sold to Tom Riley for $1.8 million, or about $94 per square foot.The vacant retail building at 706 Milford Rd. in Merrimack, formerly used by PC Connection for office space (and long ago occupied by Scandinavian Design) sold to a Boston-area investor for more than $1.1 million, or almost $120 per square foot. It appears that a tenant may be in place for this well-located property right across from Pennichuck Square.A former Furniture World property on Daniel Webster Highway in Nashua has been purchased by an Ashley Furniture dealer for $4 million. The former Furniture World building off Route 293 in Manchester (across from the Mall of New Hampshire) is reportedly under agreement for sale.Two car washes recently sold. The White Duck Car Wash in Milford just west of the 101 Bypass sold for $1.35 million in February and the 109 Manchester Street Car Wash in Concord sold in early April for just under $1 million.Multi-units and Market BasketsApartment complexes have become highly desirable investments, due to increased occupancy and demand. The Heritage on the Merrimack complex in Bedford sold for $28 million, and Webster Commons in Nashua sold for more than $2.7 million. Another indication of strength in this sector is the rebuilding of the building at Sunset Ridge Apartments in Manchester that was destroyed by fire a few years ago. According to the owner, demand is strong for these units.For some time, the only construction we have been seeing is what I call the two “M’s” – medical and Market Basket. The key piece of the Elliot at River’s Edge is now open and operating, with more to come on that site, and construction is continuing in Londonderry at the Elliot complex on Buttrick Road.The first new medical office building on South River Road in Bedford in front of the Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center is nearing completion and the developers have already been back to the Bedford Planning Board for approvals for another similar-sized building.Market Basket is in the process of construction projects in Hooksett, Londonderry and Manchester, and is close to final approvals for Bedford.However, we are now seeing other commercial construction going on. Most notably is a new Bellwether Community Credit Union branch on 101 in Bedford across from the municipal safety complex, to be joined by the Copper Door, a new concept restaurant from the owners of T-Bones and Cactus Jack’s.The long-awaited glut of distressed commercial properties coming to the market via foreclosure just hasn’t happened, with few exceptions. Most recently, the former Clarion hotel on the Amoskeag Circle was bought at foreclosure by the Roedel Group, which plans to re-brand it as aLa Quinta. Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant will continue as a tenant after the renovations have been completed.Dan Scanlon, JD, CCIM, is an adviser with Grubb & Ellis|Northern New England, Bedford. He can be reached at 603-206-9605 or djs@grubbellisnne.com.