Commercial Real Estate Awards: Success of Westport Village drives sale

In 2013, the Underhill family, which transformed the Camelot Shopping Center into a thriving retail and restaurant destination called Westport Village, sold the controlling interest in the holding company that owns the property.

The controlling interest was purchased by Inland Real Estate Acquisitions Inc., an affiliate of Chicago-based Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc..

The sale of the shopping center is the winner in Business First’s 2014 Commercial Real Estate Awards program in the Best Retail Lease or Sale category.

The Stats

53: Number of tenants at Westport Village.

10: Number of dining locations in the shopping center.

13.85: Total acreage on which Westport Village is located.

Success story goes back to 2004

Westport Village’s story began in 2004 when Camelot Acquisition LLC purchased the moribund Camelot Shopping Center.

“When it started out as a project back in ’04, it was a tired, run-down center in an area of town that was on the decline,” saidColin Underhill, managing member of Camelot Acquisition and a manager with Underhill Associates, the Underhill family’s Louisville-based real estate company.

“It was largely vacant. … We redeveloped the center into something unique to this market. The whole area around it really regentrified itself. Now all the businesses in the area, whether they’re actually in Westport Village itself, are benefiting.”

Selling local

Convincing Inland to take a chance on a shopping center with predominantly local businesses was a challenge, according to Underhill.

“We didn’t have an anchor — it wasn’t Target, Home Depot,” he said. “We were selling Louisville’s finest businesses that aren’t known outside of the city.”

Underhill said Napa River Grill moved its only location to Westport Village, spurring a number of local and regional franchises to follow suit, along with a few national chains, such as Qdoba Mexican Grill.

The Comfy Cow ice cream and dessert shop opened its first location there, and Wild Eggs opened its second restaurant there. Those points helped close the deal.

Underhills remain involved

Discussions with Inland about the sale of Westport Village started in November 2011, and the transaction was complete in February 2013.

Underhill told Business First in February 2013 that the sale gives his company the chance to pursue other redevelopment projects.

Underhill Associates remains involved with Westport Village as the on-site property manager and leasing agent.

Inland officials declined to comment on the sale, other than to state that Westport Village is its first retail property in the Louisville market.

The Basics

Address: 1315 Herr Lane, Louisville, Ky. 40222

Price: $33.5 million

Square feet: 172,000

Primary buyer broker: Jeff Manno, Inland Real Estate Acquisitions Inc., Chicago

Primary seller broker: Colin Underhill, George T. Underhill & Associates LLC

Primary lead developer: George T. Underhill & Associates

Primary general contractor: Brasch/Barry General Contractors Inc.

Primary architect: Studio “A” Architecture Inc.

Primary civil engineer: Presnell Design Group LLC

Primary financier: Cantor Fitzgerald LP, New York

Primary law firm: Frost Brown Todd LLC

Primary accounting firm: Neikirk, Mahoney & C