Saturday, April 28, 2012

Purchase of Birmingham Festival Center has Israeli ties

For those in the Birmingham area looking to “buy Israel,” the effort just got a lot easier, in one sense.

The Eastwood Festival Center on Crestwood Boulevard, home to a Home Depot and The Edge 12 movie theater, was just acquired by Mark Gold of Buyer’s Group and Skyline International Development of Canada, and is being renamed the Crestwood Festival Center.

Skyline is owned by founder Gil Blutrich and his Israeli development company, Mishorim Group. The Israel Land Development Company acquired around 30 percent of the company in 2001.

Southpace Properties of Birmingham manages the property, and said that Skyline plans to invest millions of dollars into the property. The parking lot’s spaces have already been repainted, and additional lighting, painting and landscaping are already planned, along with new signage.

Festival opened in 1989 but since then the entire area has transformed. Nearby Eastwood Mall dwindled and closed, then recently was razed and a new center, anchored by Super Wal-Mart, opened. Century Plaza, just down from Festival, outlasted Eastwood Mall but continued to lose tenants and is now vacant.

Festival is about 65 percent occupied and has numerous empty spaces, but four leases for about 50,000 square feet are currently being negotiated. The entire complex is just over 300,000 square feet.

One new tenant will be the Birmingham Police Department, which is being given a free 3,000-square-foot space for a substation and community outreach center.

According to the Birmingham Business Journal, former owner DDR Corp. had been asking $7.34 million for the property, which the county values at $5.6 million. Skyline reportedly bought the center for $3 million.

In December, Skyline bought the Cleveland Arcade, the first major indoor shopping center in the United States, for $7.7 million at a sheriff’s auction. The previous owners had put more than $70 million into renovations before defaulting. That was Skyline’s first purchase in the U.S.

Additional Skyline purchases have been in Las Vegas, St. Petersburg and Los Angeles since then.

Skyline also owns the Horseshoe Resort in Canada, the historic King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto, and other office buildings, shopping centers and hotels, including the Pantages Suites Hotel and Spa, and Cosmopolitan Hotel in Toronto.

ILDC is one of the oldest companies in Israel, founded in 1908.