Published by Sacramento Bee.

A big buying spree is continuing for local real estate bargain hunter Ethan Conrad.

The latest deal for the former broker: acquisition of the Kmart-anchored Rivergate Shopping Center, just off Highway 50 at Sunrise Boulevard and Coloma Road in Rancho Cordova.

Conrad says he bested 15 other bidders for the bank-owned, 14.5-acre center at what he says is one of the region’s highest-traveled intersections.

“Basically the location is phenomenal,” says Conrad, who has made 18 other commercial real estate purchases over the past two years, making him the area’s most active buyer.

As with his other purchases, Conrad plans to upgrade the center – in this case, replacing the wood exteriors with stucco and adding neon lighting at the tops of the center’s corner buildings.

Conrad reports more tenant interest in this property than in any of his other holdings.

Most of the calls are coming from national tenants seeking the smaller spaces now available in the 137,000-square foot center.

But most intriguing is interest from a “national grocer” seeking a 40,000-square-foot store.

Making that much space available would require demolishing parts of the existing center and rebuilding, the developer says.

How serious is the potential newcomer? Reasonably so, Conrad reports, noting that he and the grocer are in the “third round of site plans.”