Grocer Alfredo Linares jumps on DRA selloff for $48M

Alfredo Linares isn’t just a neighborhood grocer anymore.

The Mexican immigrant to Chicago, who became an entrepreneur behind the local chain Food Market La Chiquita, is the landlord of a large suburban strip mall boasting big-box tenants such as Best Buy and TJ Maxx, after coughing up $48 million to buy the property.

An affiliate of Linares made a deal with DRA Advisors — the New York-based investor that’s selling off a $540 million Midwest retail property portfolio concentrated in Chicagoland. Linares purchased the 259,000-square-foot Rivertree Court shopping center at 701 North Milwaukee Avenue in Vernon Hills from the firm. He paid about $185 per square foot.

Linares’ purchase was funded in part by a $29.5 million mortgage from Northern Trust. Marketing materials show Rivertree Court was nearly fully leased as of last year, with a little more than 2,200 square feet of space available.

It’s the latest big deal DRA has made, as it unloads its massive Chicago-area holdings in piecemeal fashion. The firm’s offering of 3.7 million square feet across 24 properties has allowed a new generation of buyers to enter the local market at price points ranging from below $10 million for the portfolio’s smaller assets, as well as big-ticket properties like the Vernon Hills property.

The offering stems from DRA’s acquisition of Inland Real Estate in 2016. It took on Inland’s $2.3 billion portfolio, which operated under the IRC Retail Centers banner. DRA inherited 132 properties totaling more than 15 million square feet with the deal, but it had already sold most of it before putting the remaining 24 properties on the market a little less than a year ago.

Neither Linares nor DRA returned requests for comment.

Linares’ deal thrust him among the buttoned-up investment firms and publicly traded companies that have plucked assets from DRA in the last year.

The acquisition indicates a diversifying business model for Linares, who has experience operating in retail strip centers. He started his first grocery venture in 1986 under the Food Market La Chiquita brand — which operates taquerias in its stores — and has expanded to at least eight Chicagoland locations.

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