Pollack Cinema

Commercial real estate baron Michael Pollack is reaping the benefits of one of the best markets in 15 years. 

His Mesa company, Michael A. Pollack Real Estate Investments, sold five of his Valley shopping centers for more than $32 million.

“It has been very good for us for the last three years,” said Pollack, one of the largest commercial real estate owners in the Valley.  “Anyone who wants to sell right now, it’s a sellers market, just like it is for anyone looking to sell a home.”

Pollack sold retail centers in Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix and Tempe.

He said they worked hard to wrap up all five transactions before 2021 ended because he is uncertain what the federal government might do this year with the capital gains tax rate.

“Hopefully, the federal government doesn’t do something irrational,” he said. 

Pollack said he’s been working for more than a decade to make sure his retail centers continue to thrive in a changing marketplace. He called them “Amazon-resistant,” saying they have focused on businesses that offer experiences or services.

“You can’t get a haircut at Amazon,” he said. 

Pollack said they will look to buy more retail centers but, considering how hot the market is right now, they might wait.

“It’s a little too hot to be a buyer,” he said. “We would love to put capital out right now, but we’re also realists. It’s a very hot market, not just in sales but the leasing side is on fire like I haven’t seen since 2006.”

He said 2006 was the peak before this current market. Pollack said he currently has occupancy rates in the high 90 to 100 percent. He’s even had some of his tenants ask about a wait list for any openings he has.

“I haven’t seen it this way in a long time,” he said.

Pollack said his strong numbers shows there is still space for retail centers despite the growth of online shopping. He said the biggest trouble facing retail today is not Amazon, it’s the inability to find workers. 

He said he knows of businesses looking to expand, but they can’t because they can’t find the workers.

The retail centers he sold are Trailside Center and Lindsay Marketplace in Mesa; Tower Plaza in Phoenix; Olive Plaza in Peoria; and Apache Central Center in Tempe.

Pollack said his company follows the same model. They look for retail centers that have an issue, such as poor occupancy, tenant issues or just needs major remodeling. Those centers usually come with a discount. They then invest in the centers and fix whatever issues they have.

The Tempe property, Apache Central Center, was sold to the City of Tempe for $10.6 million.

He said the city plans to redevelop it into a mixed-use center that has retail on the ground level and housing for working class and low-income residents above.

Lindsay Marketplace went for the highest amount, $11.2 million. Pollack’s company had owned it since 1993.

He owned the other Mesa and Phoenix properties for nearly 30 years. His company bought the Peoria property in 2003.

“This business is ever evolving, ever changing” Pollack said. “Anyone who thinks it’s easy, that you can buy a center and lease it out to the local T-shirt shop, well, they won’t be in it for long. You have to a have a specialty, you have to do a niche.”

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