In the largest retail property sale so far this year in metropolitan Philadelphia, Morris Ashbridge Associates LP has acquired Ashbridge Square, a 386,016 sq. ft. power center in Downingtown, Pa., for $51.75 million, or $133 per sq. ft. The seller was Pacific Crest Holding LLC of Beverly Hills, Calif.

Located at 900 East Lancaster Ave. in Downingtown, the 49-acre Ashbridge Square is anchored by Home Depot, Best Buy, Staples and Bottom Dollar, a grocery store owned by Food Lion.

Additional tenants include Christmas Tree Shops, PJ Whellihan’s Pub, PLCB Store, Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts, Super Cuts and Tuesday Morning. The site includes an additional 7,200 sq. ft. to 10,000 sq. ft. pad for future development.

Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services represented both the buyer and seller in the transaction. The brokers included Kevin Boeve of the firm’s office in Ontario, Calif., along with Mark Taylor and Dean Zang from Marcus & Millichap’s Philadelphia office.

“This sale indicates that private investors — not just REITs and institutional players — are truly starting to regain confidence in the anchored power-center segment,” says Boeve. “We strategically marketed the property to a select buyer pool, rather than broadcasting it openly to the market seeking to lure a buyer.”

Marcus & Millichap generated 17 offers, mostly from private partnerships. Morris Ashbridge Associates, a Delaware-based limited partnership, ultimately won the bidding war.

“Properties anchored by credit tenants with long-term leases in strong locations are clearly garnering more attention from private investors,” says Boeve of Marcus & Millichap.

The complex deal included a loan assumption and a 1031 tax-deferred exchange on the part of the buyer. “We collaborated to find our West Coast seller a buyer based on the East Coast, which demonstrates our unparalleled ability to access private capital from all over the United States,” boasts Taylor of Marcus & Millichap.

Ashbridge Square is located in a fast-growing suburb of Philadelphia. Some 43,000 people live within a three-mile radius of Ashbridge Square with a current average household income of $110,000.

The power center is an attractive asset for a host of reasons, explains Taylor. “Its location — combined with the long-term, triple-net leases of Home Depot, Best Buy, Bottom Dollar and Christmas Tree Shops — will provide the new ownership with stability over the long term.”