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University Place Shopping Center

The Hy-Vee Mainstreet store at 48th and Leighton will be closing at the end of the month.

A pair of Omaha developers have bought the University Place shopping Center at 48th Street and Leighton Avenue.

Chris Erickson and Dan White, who own a company called City Ventures, bought the roughly 100,000-square-foot center last month.

According to county real estate records, they paid $7.6 million, which was a little less than the previous owner paid in 2004.

Erickson said he and White, who own a similar neighborhood shopping center in Omaha, were drawn to the center largely because of the University Place neighborhood.

"There are a lot of cool features to this neighborhood that make it primed for a rebirth, and we want to be a part of it," he said.

Erickson and White already had dipped their toes into the neighborhood, buying the former Buggy Bath car wash across the street from the shopping center in the spring.

The 50-year-old shopping center, which was previously owned by an out-of-state owner, has seen its ups and downs over the past few years.

In early 2008, Hy-Vee announced it was closing its store there, which had anchored the center for decades.

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But the neighborhood banded together to protest, and Hy-Vee agreed to put a smaller-format store in the spot, called Hy-Vee Marketplace.

However, the remaining space the new store didn't use has remained vacant ever since.

The shopping center also lost a prominent tenant when Blockbuster Video closed its last Lincoln stores in January.

Erickson said a Domino's Pizza shop is going into part of the former Blockbuster space and will open in a couple of weeks.

He said also that he's already had some interest from tenants in the vacant former Hy-Vee space, even though he hasn't formally marketed it yet.

"That shows there's pretty strong interest in the property," Erickson said.

Diane Walkowiak, a neighborhood resident and former board member of the University Place Community Organization, said it would be "fantastic" if the new owners could get the vacant portion of the former Hy-Vee space leased.

"Hopefully, the new owners will be aggressive in getting that space filled," she said. "It's been vacant far too long."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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