Whole Foods Grocery is one of the tenants for the Water Tower Shopping Center that was sold in May to a California real estate management firm. Photo by Polk County assessor

The West Des Moines shopping center that sports Best Buy, Whole Foods and Buy Buy Baby has been sold to a California-based real estate land management and operations firm, records filed with Polk County show. 

Water Tower Place, one of West Des Moines’ first upscale neighborhood strip shopping centers, was sold in May for $51.2 million to Loja WTP LLC. 

The brick-veneer buildings at 3920 University Ave. and 4100 University Ave. were assessed in 2019 at $30.8 million.

“The time was right to sell,” said Tim Hogan, a Des Moines real estate attorney who represents the former owners of the center that is spread over nearly 30 acres. “The center is full [and] it’s at its best value.”

Hogan said the limited liability company that had owned and developed the center includes Abe Wolf and Ron Daniels of Buyers Realty Inc. and the family of the late Michael Meyers, who died in 2006.

Construction of the first phase of center began in 1995 amid clamoring from area residents about increased traffic congestion. The development company paid for the widening of 42nd Street, the center’s western boundary. 

Over the years, the center has been home to Sports Authority and Borders Book Store, both of which entered bankruptcy. 

The Loja Group, according to its website, was created to buy retail real estate assets in the United States on behalf of investors. Hogan said the group prefers to buy “power centers” that include grocery stores.