Illinois-based Core Acquisitions has purchased Division Place, a 127,433-square-foot community retail center at 2700 W. Division St. in St. Cloud. The anchor tenant is TJ Maxx. (Submitted photo: CoStar)

Editor’s note: Minnesota Snapshot reports interesting sales and development projects happening throughout Minnesota. The transactions are based on the certificates of real estate value filed with the state Department of Revenue, copies of which are available with the story at Other items may come from government agendas and news releases. While other landlords are waiting for the latest retail casualty lists that will close stores and open up holes in investment properties, Adam Firsel is feeling pretty confident.

Firsel, president of Illinois-based Core Acquisitions LLC, made his first venture into Minnesota when he paid $16.1 million for Division Place, a 127,433-square-foot, 24-year-old community retail center at 2700 W. Division St. in St. Cloud.

Mindy St. Cloud LLC and DLH St. Cloud LLC, two entities related to Core, bought the property from Gateway Jackson Inc. CoStar lists the seller as an entity related to New York-based Brixmor Property

The purchase price works out to $126.34 per square foot.

The certificate of real estate value surfaced this month, but Firsel has had enough time since the sale closed in August to see results that support his decision.

“The bricks-and-mortar retailers that are really surviving are the discounters,” Firsel said Tuesday. His anchor is TJ Maxx, whose parent company, TJX, announced last year it plans to grow its lineup of TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and HomeGoods from its current 3,600 locations to 5,600 during the next several years. That growth and the consistently strong sales have made it the darling of business gurus from The Motley Fool to Fortune.
“TJ Maxx is an incredibly strong anchor,” Firsel said. It’s so strong, many of the other stores and restaurants in the center have co-tenancy agreements that allow them to renegotiate or cancel their leases if TJ Maxx leaves, Firsel said.

With TJ Maxx performing well, however, the anchor will be a tool in renewing leases with a tenant roster that includes Dollar Tree, Tuesday Morning, Famous Footwear and Home Choice (Rent-A-Center), Starbucks, Aspen Dental, GNC, Subway, GameStop and Plato’s Closet. Marketing materials for the center show many tenants at the property generate sales well above their national averages due to the strength of the St. Cloud regional trade area. The center is along a retail corridor that includes Crossroads Center, a regional mall anchored by Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Sears, Target and Scheels. It also is home to a cluster of power centers showcasing all the major national players.

With a headquarters in the Chicago suburbs, Firsel started out shopping close to home.

“Finding value-add opportunities is getting tougher and tougher,” Firsel said. “Some of the high-profile properties are getting bid up by buyers with cheaper cost of capital.”

Core tries to avoid going head to head with large institutional buyers and real estate investment trusts, he said.

“We’d rather have a dominant position in a smaller market,” Firsel said. “We had to get out of the Chicago market.”

Core now has 15 properties. Most are in Illinois, but he also has branched out into Indiana, Ohio and Colorado.

Division Place, the company’s only property in Minnesota, offers value-added opportunity, Firsel said, noting that it has a vacancy rate of about 15 percent. Marketing materials indicate that the vacant space, along with below-market rents on leases that are expiring, and the rent bumps already factored into existing leases could increase the revenue stream by more than 40 percent in the next five years.

Mid-America Real Estate Corp. Principal Joe Girardi and Mark Robinson of the company’s Minnesota office represented the seller in the transaction. Mid-America also is handling leasing and property management for Core.