WINDSOR -- Pharmacist Mark Burger and his wife, Terri, wanted to buy the 1,330-square-foot corner commercial condominium in which they opened Health First Pharmacy in the Town Green Village mixed-use development in central Windsor in 2003, but the asking price was too high. But thanks to about three dozen such units at the 14-acre development coming on the market for sale in the past few months, the Burgers and other Town Green Village tenants as well as investors are buying up the condos at a fraction of original prices.
[caption id="attachment_57794" align="alignright" width="360" caption="Longtime Town Green Village tenant Health First Pharmacy will be relocating to larger, higher-tech quarters across the street thanks to a big sale of Wells Fargo-owned commercial condominiums."][/caption]
"We have two places now and will pay less in improvements and mortgage than lease payments," Dr. Burger said.
The Burgers bought 1,000 more square feet in two retail condos across the street from their current location and want to open a higher-tech integrative compounding pharmacy there in the next six months.
The Burgers' purchases April 27 and June 29 were two of 14 commercial units Wells Fargo Bank put on the market in March as a reorganization plan was being confirmed in Bankruptcy Court in Santa Rosa on $12.1 million in liabilities claimed by lead Town Green Village developer Orrin Thiessen, according to court documents and public records.
Confirmed by the court April 23, the plan turned over to lenders dozens of properties at Town Green Village and Starr Station mixed-use developments in Windsor as well as projects in Sebastopol, Forestville and Cotati as collateral on $11.3 million in loans on those properties, the document said. Beside Wells Fargo's 14 units at Town Green Village, Westamerica Bank got back 15 commercial condos, Rabobank nine, and California Bank & Trust three.
[caption id="attachment_57795" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="Allen Coffin, owner of Pack Ship & More on Windsor River Road in Town Green Village, took advantage of a big lender sale of commercial condominiums to lock in longer-term lower real estate costs."][/caption]
Some Town Green Village properties had gone back to North Valley Bank and Rabobank in 2011.
Wells Fargo has sold all but one of its Town Green Village commercial units, and the last is set to close escrow by the end of this month, according to Preston Smith, one of the Cornish & Carey Commercial Newmark Knight Frank listing agents. Sale prices ranged from $105 to $197 a square foot, varying depending on size, location and type of unit. That's half to one-eighth of the original prices, Mr. Smith said.
"A lot of the tenants in the spaces, who were offered the units first, bought them because with SBA and interest rates so low, they could own for less than they pay in rent," he said.
After operating Chinois Asian Bistro for nearly five years at 186 Windsor River Rd., one of the proprietors, who also operate Ume restaurant down the street, purchased Chinois' space from Wells Fargo.
"Cash flow-wise, this helps us quite a bit," said Chang Liow. "It gives us flexibility going forward, because it lets us know we're going to be here long-term versus being at the mercy of the solvency of the landlord."
He estimates the switch to ownership will cut cash outflows by 10 percent to 15 percent compared with paying rent to an outside entity.