An institutional real estate investor has acquired a Cutler Bay shopping center for $40.5 million, an $11.24 million discount from the property’s 2006 sale price.

South Dade Shopping LLC, a Delaware company managed by Principal Real Estate Investors, on Dec. 21 added the South Dade Shopping Center to its portfolio. The cash transaction was recorded by Miami-Dade County on Monday.

Principal, the real estate arm of publicly traded Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal Financial Group, is the fourth-largest institutional real estate manager in the nation, according to the company’s website.

A longtime real estate owner in South Florida, Principal has had an active year on both the buying and selling fronts. The company’s retail acquisitions in the region included the $52 million purchase of the Shoppes at Woolbright in Boynton Beach in March. It sold Fort Lauderdale office building Tower 101, which the company owned in a partnership with Cap Advisors, for $28.7 million in July.

For Principal, the center “fits our strategy of acquiring high-quality, grocery-anchored shopping centers in mature infill locations, with top tier tenants,” according to Jim Halliwell, the company’s managing director – acquisitions and dispositions.

“This acquisition is well below replacement cost,” Halliwell said.

WRI-TC South Dade Shopping Center LLC, which is also a Delaware company, sold the 18403 S. Dixie Highway property. The company is managed by Texas real estate investment trust Weingarten Realty Investors. WRI-TC paid $51.74 million in September 2006 for the 213,661-square-foot center.

Mark Witcher, Weingarten’s director of dispositions, declined comment when reached Wednesday.

South Dade Shopping Center was built in 1984 on a 27.27-acre site. Tenants include Publix, Bed Bath & Beyond and Chuck E. Cheese, according to CoStar Group.

The center is 96 percent occupied, according to Halliwell. Principal is putting together a list of potential tenants to target for the remaining space.

Annual rents at the center average $23.06 per square foot, according to CoStar. The property has nearly 1,200 parking spaces.

More than $1 million in improvements were made to the center between 2007 and 2012, according to Principal’s website. That includes the addition of nearly 19,000 square feet of shopping space.

As 2012 drew to a close, South Florida properties in most real estate sectors sold at an accelerated pace. The region’s retail market was among the most active during that time.

South Florida’s most expensive retail transaction of the year, the $139 million sale of three Lincoln Road buildings to Terranova Corp. and Acadia Realty Trust, closed on Dec. 18. Six days earlier, the Reserve Shopping Center in Boca Raton and the Gander Mountain retail building in Palm Beach Gardens sold for a combined $76 million.

A subsidiary of Trans World Entertainment Corp. on Nov. 27 sold a retail building at 501 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, for $30 million.