Essex Acquires Stewart Plaza

Real Estate Weekly

A venture led by Manhattan-based Essex Capital Partners Ltd. Recently acquired Stewart Plaza, a 4-year old, 222,500 square-foot shopping center in Garden City, Long Island, anchored by a 110,000 square-foot Caldor.

Essex, in partnership with Preferred Real Estate Investments of Philadelphia, completed the complex purchase which involved Marine Midland Bank, the original lender, and Philip Pilevsky, the original developer. The Essex group paid $22 million for the center.

Stewart Plaza – located at the retail hub of Long Island just across the street from the Roosevelt Field Mall – was completed in 1990 and originally financed by $40 million in debt. When the recession hit, the original developer was unable to continue servicing the debt; this situation led to bankruptcy filing in 1992.

Essex president and principal shareholder, Mitchell B. Rutter, believes that the structure under which he and his group acquired the center will allow the investors to obtain a current double digit return with significant room for appreciation. When the group contracted for the shopping center, 31,000 square feet was vacant. By the time of the closing, the Essex team had already negotiated leases covering 20,000 square feet of the vacant space. One of the new tenants will be Young World, the children’s clothing store chain.

Stewart Plaza was originally built with two anchor tenants, Caldor and Kiddie City, which went bankrupt and vacated Stewart Plaza in mid-1993. Caldor saw the departure of Kiddie City as an opportunity for expansion. The Caldor at Stewart Plaza now measures 110,000 square feet and ranks in the top five of all Caldor stores nationally in terms of sales per square foot.

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