Buyers of Logan Town Centre linked to sports owner

The investor group that recently bought Logan Town Centre for $101.5 million has links to the owner of the St. Louis Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and the English soccer club Arsenal: Stan Kroenke.

The Kroenke Group of Columbia, Mo., is the leasing agent for space in the center, according to John Rubenstein of Rubenstein Real Estate Co. in Kansas City, who represented the investor group in the purchase – although he declined to speak about the group’s members and indicated it wasn’t looking for publicity.

The Kroenke Group was founded in 1986 by Kroenke, husband of Walmart heiress Ann Walton and the 261st richest person in the world, according to a state of Missouri online business filing website and a Forbes listing of the world’s billionaires.

The address of the investor group, TKG Logan Town Centre LP, as identified on the sale deed, is identical to the address of The Kroenke Group, and the president of the company listed on the Pennsylvania corporation website as general partner is R. Otto Maly – who helped form The Kroenke Group, joining it in its first year as vice president of development, according to the website of Maly Commercial Realty Inc.

Maly Commercial Realty’s address indicates it’s next door to The Kroenke Group headquarters, and Maly was identified by Forbes in 2013 as Kroenke’s “longtime business agent.”

Stan Kroenke is a longtime real estate magnate, who made national news when he broke with longtime partner Michael Staenberg, with whom he formed St. Louis-based THF – To Have Fun – Realty, which eventually amassed 20 million square feet of retail shopping space, according to Forbes.

Claudia Steeb, a managing director for HFF, the Pittsburgh-based commercial real estate firm that helped former owner AVR Realty of Yonkers, N.Y., sell the center, said she couldn’t talk about the buyers because of a confidentiality agreement.

But she talked about the sale.

“Altoona isn’t a robust metropolis,” Steeb said. “It is what it is.”

And the stores in the center aren’t the types you’d find in an upscale, cosmopolitan location.

“[But] this center serves this market extremely well,” she said.

It helped that the center includes a supermarket, Giant Eagle.

“Grocery-anchored,” Steeb said. “Right now (that’s) the darling of what people are looking to buy.”

Supermarkets draw shoppers – the same shoppers, again and again – and those shoppers tend to visit other stores in the center.

In marketing the center, HFF first had to get potential buyers to actually look at the area.

It helped that Steeb knew it from going to college at Penn State.

It also helped that Logan Town Centre has eclipsed Logan Valley Mall as the dominant shopping center in the region, according to Steeb.

The trend overall is away from malls toward “the newer pretty stuff,” she said.

Logan Town Centre wasn’t completed until 2012, although it was being phased in for the six years before that, according to an HFF news release.

The advantages of the 75-acre, 715,000 square foot property include long-term leases, financially stable tenants, a strong sales record and good accessibility and visibility from I-99, the news release stated.

“It has mass and dominance,” said Jeffrey Gansberg, chief operating officer of AVR, which bought the center in 2007.

Why did AVR sell?

“It wasn’t easy, to be quite honest,” Gansberg said. “It’s been a successful property.”

But it was the firm’s only one in Pennsylvania, and AVR likes to “center” its holdings, for efficiency and better market knowledge, he said.

There’s room for expansion, according to Rubenstein: four storerooms totaling 10,000 square feet available for lease and three land sites available for construction – 10,000 square feet near Best Buy, 18,000 square feet near Kohl’s and 7,000 square feet in front of Boscov’s.

Generally, though, the new owners want to maintain the center and provide “a safe, clean shopping environment for all the people in the Altoona area.”

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.