The Deals Are Better and Better

BY Michael Fickes

Editor’s Note: The 25th annual Chain Store Age survey of Fastest-Growing Acquirers surveyed retail square footage purchased during the 2013 calendar year.

Lenders are lending again, the equity markets are investing again, and buyers and sellers appear to be moving retail real estate faster than last year — which was a relatively good recovery year.

As usual, this year’s Fastest-Growing Acquirers survey include regulars and newcomers. With one exception, the top five acquirers profiled here report significantly more acquired square footage for 2013 compared with 2012.

While few are cheering yet, most agree that the slow recovery is proving persistent and will eventually shift into a higher gear.


Cole Real EstateInvestments

With 2013 acquisitions of 12,265,867 sq. ft., Cole Real Estate Investments more than doubled last year’s total of 5.5 million sq. ft. The company spent approximately $12.5 billion on 317 properties spread across 30 states. About $11.3 billion of the total went for single-tenant retail properties. The remaining $1.2 billion acquired power centers and grocery-anchored centers, according to Thomas W. Roberts, executive VP real estate, American Realty Capital Properties.

Roberts was executive VP with Cole but joined ARCP after the two companies merged late last year.

Notable 2013 single-tenant Cole acquisitions included 27 CVS stores in a $125.4 million sale-leaseback transaction and a Dollar General portfolio of 31 properties for $41.7 million.

Among the shopping centers acquired in 2013, notables include The Plant in San Jose, Calif., a 509,687-sq.-ft. power center acquired for $203.1 million. The big-box lineup features Home Depot, Toys “R” Us, Target, OfficeMax, Ross Dress for Less, Best Buy and Ulta.

Roberts said the capital markets environment facilitating these acquisitions was strong. “It is maintaining a healthy spread between interest rates and cap rates,” he added.


American Realty Capital Properties

ARCP acquired 9,887,442 sq. ft. of retail space during 2013. Perhaps the most notable acquisition was the $11.2 billion merger of ARCP with Cole Real Estate Investments, the top 2013 acquirer.

Reporting separately for 2013, Cole and ARCP occupied the first and second position in Chain Store Age’s Fastest Growing Acquirer rankings. Next year’s activity will be reported as one entity.

Another notable 2013 transaction was the acquisition of a GE Capital Portfolio with 447 properties for $826.3 million.

ARCP’s investment strategy is designed to generate monthly dividends from a durable and predictable level of monthly rents paid by primarily investment grade and other credit-worthy tenants and to provide significant growth potential.

The company places a premium on stability of cash flow for stockholders, and therefore sustains a property portfolio blend of both long-term net leases, which provide stability, and mid-term leases, which provide significant rent growth potential.


Phillips Edison & Co.

As equity capital has returned to the market, it fueled a surge in buying at Phillips Edison & Co. The company acquired over 6 million sq. ft. of retail real estate last year, approximately double 2012 levels.

“We have expanded access to capital and multiple pools of capital to tap,” said Hal Scudder, the company’s chief investment officer. “All of our capital is discretionary, which enables quick executions.”

That discretionary capital provided $1 billion for 39 transactions with a total of 57 properties during 2013. Five of the transactions were portfolios.

“This year, we’re tracking or exceeding our 2013 volumes and expect that to continue,” Scudder said.

Phillips Edison’s transactions are notable for their similarity. “While we’re buying more stabilized properties than in the past,” continued Scudder, “we mostly acquire grocery-anchored properties with leading national or regional grocers — in primary and secondary markets.

“The grocer has to be one of the chain’s stronger performers, and it must be the right size for the market. All told, we have more than 30 grocery banners in our portfolio.” Scudder did note one change: During the recession, Phillips Edison added distressed power and lifestyle centers to its property types.


Inland Real Estate Group of Cos.

Last year’s fastest-growing acquirer, The Inland Real Estate Group of Oak Brook, Ill., bought 4,037,233 sq. ft. of retail real estate in 2013, fewer than half the 9,143,387 sq. ft. acquired in 2012.

What happened?

“I didn’t see enough good things to buy,” said G. Joseph Cosenza, the company’s vice chairman. “It was a slow year for retail. We were buying multi-family.” Two transactions were notable for their size. The first is a portfolio of 72 CVS drug stores spanning 949,799 sq. ft., acquired for $333,802,796.

The second transaction consists of two properties totaling 73,000 sq. ft. in Lake Geneva, Wis. Lake Geneva Commons is a 55,077-sq.-ft. shopping center on the outskirts of town. Newport West is a 17,962-sq.-ft. retail building in downtown Lake Geneva.

Inland paid about $17 million for both.

Cosenza calls it a cute deal. Lake Geneva, population 140,000, is the weekend home of 50,000 members of Chicago’s wealthiest families.

The town’s year-round residents patronize Lake Geneva Commons. Anchored by Target and Best Buy, the inline tenants include Sally Beauty, Mattress Firm and Maurices.

Weekend tourists visit Newport West for breakfast, lunch, clothing and necessities.

“We got the whole town plus tourists,” Cosenza said.



Phoenix-based Vestar had a big 2013, acquiring 3,856,403 sq. ft. of retail space. By comparison, Vestar acquired less than 1 million sq. ft. in 2012. “It was a good year partly because acquisitions we were working on at the end of 2012 came through in 2013,” said Vestar president David Larcher.

Going into the recession, Vestar was primarily a developer. Post-recession, with no projects to develop, the company tried acquiring distressed properties and using its expertise as a developer to renovate, redevelop, re-tenant, lease and manage the property. It worked, and Vestar has become an owner and manager.

A notable 2013 acquisition was the 1.1 million sq.-ft. Orchard Town Center in Westminster, Colo. Anchored by AMC Theaters, Target, Ross Dress for Less and Life Time Fitness, the regional mixed-use property had seen its occupancy rate fall below 90%.

Vestar is bringing the property back.

“This is a very significant regional project,” Larcher said, “and we’re implementing value-added strategies — with great success.

“We have signed a 20,000-sq.-ft. H&M, and we have about 50,000 sq. ft. of additional leases under negotiation. Those leases could bring the property up over 95% occupied. We expect to get there within 18 months.”

Honorable Mentions

Many acquirers did well during 2013, and CSA has added three honorable mentions to recognize a trio of firms with strong acquisitions last year:

  • Rouse Properties, New York City

Rouse acquired 2,337,464 sq. ft. in 2013, made up of three major purchases: the 1 million sq.-ft. Chesterfield Towne Center in Richmond, Va.; the 862,000-sq.-ft. The Centre at Salisbury, in Salisbury, Md.; and the 460,000-sq.-ft. Greenville Mall, in Greenville, N.C.

  • Cypress Equities Real Estate Investment Management, Dallas

Cypress Equities acquired 2,284,773 sq. ft. last year, comprised of four major buys. The company acquired the 1 million-plus-sq.-ft. Lloyd Center in Portland, Ore., a mall complex featuring an ice-skating rink and cinemas along with expansive retail and dining options. Other 2013 acquisitions included Tannehill Promenade in Bessemer, Ala.; Eden Prairie Center, in Eden Prairie, Minn.; and Marketplace at Smyrna, in Smyrna, Tenn.

  • Kimco Realty Corp., New Hyde Park, N.Y.

Kimco’s 2,262,000 sq. ft. of retail properties acquired in 2013 spanned 12 states, and ranged in size from a 15,000-sq.-ft. parcel in Colma, Calif., to the 317,000-sq.-ft. Atascocita Commons in Humble, Texas.


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The New Normal?

BY Michael Fickes

Year five and, once again, too few square feet in ground-up shopping center construction to rank the “Fastest-Growing Developers” as has been the Chain Store Age tradition for the 20 years prior.

Today, developers seem fated to redevelop and expand existing centers, develop 300,000-sq.-ft. to 600,000-sq.-ft. outlet centers and perhaps add an occasional grocery-anchored infill center.

Will it ever return to normal? Some developers say no and have converted to value-added acquirers, who buy distressed properties and reposition and manage them.

After the 1990 commercial real estate depression, some developers despaired of ever building another shopping center. As we know, their despair was unfounded. Landlords like the current market, where they can raise rents without losing tenants. But retailer demand for space is building. Sooner or later, ground-up development will kick back in.

It may already be starting. Take a look at the stellar work turned in by the Top Developers of 2013. And, just as we did over the last five years, we have arranged the companies alphabetically and highlight one or more 2013 projects from each. All new developments and expansion projects were completed between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2013.

CBL & Associates Properties

Chattanooga, Tenn.

As always, CBL has worked its way into the thick of the development scene with new projects and renovations spanning 718,000 sq. ft.

In July 2013, CBL and joint-venture partner Horizon Group Properties opened The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta, a 370,000-sq.-ft. center located in Woodstock, Ga., just north of Atlanta.

Ninety-seven percent leased at opening, the center is expected to draw more than 4 million visitors annually from a three-state area.

The site can accommodate an additional 30,000 sq. ft. of outlet shops, plus restaurants and additional retail on seven outparcels.

In November, CBL opened a 46,000-sq.-ft. expansion to Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville, N.C.

Cullinan Properties

Peoria, Ill.

Cullinan Properties charged onto the Top Developer list with two projects opened in 2013: The Levee District at East Peoria Downtown in East Peoria, Ill., and the Streets of St. Charles in St. Charles, Mo., just north of St. Louis.

The Levee District opened 239,443 sq. ft. Anchors include Costco, Target, Gordmans, Ulta Beauty and Ross Dress for Less. The mixed-use project will eventually span 500,000 sq. ft. and include hotel, civic, office, retail and restaurant space.

During 2013, Streets of St. Charles opened 24,878 sq. ft. of space in a mixed-use building with Tucanos Brazilian Grill, MassageLuxe, Streets of St. Charles Dental, Prasino and Five Guys Burgers and Fries.


Columbia, S.C.

EDENS made another appearance on the Top Developers list in 2013 with nearly 560,000 sq. ft. of new space. Two notable expansion projects illustrate the company’s continuing innovations in 2013.

The Mosaic District, EDENS’ innovative, Silver LEED for Neighborhoods urban creation in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, added new restaurants like Matchbox and Cyclone Anaya’s Mexican Kitchen as well as unique local retailers such as Sip & Swirl, Courage.b and Palace 5ive.

Opened in late 2012, The Shops at Stonefield in Charlottesville, Va., created an intimate shopping experience that connects to nearby neighborhoods. During 2013, EDENS added to the experience with new retailers and restaurants, including Pasture, Parallel 38, Orvis, Mincer’s University Imprinted, Altar’d State, and Alex and Ani.

Kimco Realty Corp.

New Hyde Park, N.Y.

Kimco maintained its customary spot on the Top Developers list in 2013 by adding a total of 1,639,791 sq. ft. to its portfolio. That total included an extensive redevelopment at the Richmond Shopping Center in Staten Island, N.Y.

The project included transforming an aging 102,000-sq.-ft. Kmart into a new 142,000-sq.-ft. Target, and adding an 8,000-sq.-ft. Miller’s Ale House. Additional credit tenants that opened at the center in 2013 include Old Navy, Five Guys, Five Below and Bank of America.

The new tenants coupled with renovated exteriors running throughout the center, including Pathmark’s exteriors, have revitalized the entire site and improved the stability of the recurring net operating income (NOI) and cap rate.

RD Management LLC

New York City

Consistently ranked among the nation’s largest privately held real estate development and management organizations, RD Management brought 603,755 sq. ft. of new shopping center space on line in 2013. Two notable developments include Orangeburg Commons in Orangetown, N.Y., and Target Shopping Center in Glenville, N.Y.

At Orangeburg Commons, RD Management built a new 51,823-sq.-ft. Stop & Shop supermarket, while developing and opening a new 129-room Marriott Residence Inn Hotel.

At the Target Shopping Center, which opened in 2012, RD Management added 31,816 sq. ft. of space and brought in several national retailers, including Sleepy’s, VisionWorks and GNC, along with a number of regional tenants.

Regency Centers

Jacksonville, Fla.

Top Developers mainstay Regency Centers opened up 858,107 sq. ft. during 2013, including the 325,325-sq.-ft. Grand Ridge Plaza in Issaquah, Wash.; the 89,654-sq.-ft. Shops at Erwin Mill in Durham, N.C.; and the 341,411-sq.-ft. East Washington Place in Petaluma, Calif.

Anchored by Safeway and Regal Cinemas, Grand Ridge Plaza is the only major retail center to serve Issaquah Highlands, a master-planned community near Seattle.

The Shops at Erwin Mill, anchored by Harris Teeter, is part of a larger mixed-use project encompassing two city blocks of retail, hotel, office and residential space serving the Duke University and Durham markets.

East Washington Place is a power center anchored by Sprouts, Target, HomeGoods, T.J. Maxx, Dick’s Sporting Goods and BevMo. The eco-friendly project is LEED Silver Certified.

Simon Property Group


Simon opened a massive 3,370,000 sq. ft. of new and redeveloped space in the United States, Canada, Japan and South Korea during 2013.

Domestically, Simon redeveloped the 750,000-sq.-ft. Shops at Nanuet in Nanuet, N.Y., and the 580,000-sq.-ft. University Town Plaza in Pensacola, Fla.

Simon also expanded Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, Fla., Seattle Premium Outlets, and Orlando Premium Outlets–Vineland in Orlando, Fla. Expansions ranged from 110,000 sq. ft. to 165,000 sq. ft.

The company also opened five new Premium Outlet centers, including St. Louis Premium Outlets and Phoenix Premium Outlets in Chandler, Ariz. Both centers feature about 350,000 sq. ft.

Internationally, Shisui Premium Outlets opened in Japan; Toronto Premium Outlets opened in Canada; and Busan Premium Outlets opened in Busan, South Korea. Square footages ranged from 235,000 to 360,000.


Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Taubman brought its outlet center brand to the 2013 Top Developers list. The 308,000-sq.-ft. Prestige Outlets Chesterfield is an upper-moderate fashion outlet mall in Chesterfield, Mo., just 20 minutes from St. Louis.

With approximately 70 fashion-focused retailers and a collection of popular restaurants, the open-air, village-style property creates a shopping destination for locals and visitors alike.

The center features a family-focused environment, dog-friendly hospitality and access to the Monarch Chesterfield Levee Trail, which is built atop a levee designed to protect Chesterfield from the Missouri River when it floods.

The project created approximately 750 construction jobs and more than 800 permanent jobs.

Tri-Land Properties

Westchester, Ill.

Tri-Land Properties brought two shopping centers encompassing 318,157 sq. ft. of space to market during 2013: The 140,461-sq.-ft. Fridley Market in Fridley, Minn., and the 177,696-sq.-ft. Ten Quivira in suburban Kansas City, Mo.

Tri-Land acquired Fridley Market in 2006 and implemented a redevelopment that downsized a 104,000-sq.-ft. Cub Foods to 62,736 sq. ft., moved Fridley Liquors into a new 10,500-sq.-ft. space, renovated 61,000 sq. ft. of space and added McDonald’s on an outparcel.

Tri-Land also purchased Ten Quivira in 2006 and implemented a redevelopment plan there. Today, a new 64,736-sq.-ft. Price Chopper anchors the center. Inline retailers include Prairie Point Quilt & Fabric Shop, Thai Home Place, Go Big Skill Toys, Saints Pub and Jimmy John’s.


Los Angeles

Westfield marched onto the 2013 Top Developers list with 1,158,000 sq. ft. of new and redeveloped space. One of the most notable Westfield projects completed during the year was the $37 million redevelopment of Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose, Calif., in the heart of Silicon Valley.

The 99,000-sq.-ft. project included a new, upscale dining terrace, elegantly redesigned center court and a newly enhanced Luxury Collection. The Luxury Collection area of the center is now home to premier brands such as Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Prada, Burberry, Miu Miu, Salvatore Ferragamo, David Yurman, Tory Burch, Apple, UNIQLO, Zara, Michael Kors, Hugo Boss and Montblanc.

The Woodmont Co.

Fort Worth, Texas

In its second appearance on the Top Developers list — following last year’s debut — The Woodmont Co. completed two significant projects in 2013.

The first was a continuation of the Chimney Rock power center in Odessa, Texas, in the heart of what has been the fastest-growing Texas market. Following the addition of 54,361 sq. ft. of retail in 2012, Woodmont brought on another 64,023 sq. ft. this year. Academy Sports + Outdoors, Best Buy and Marshalls anchor the center.

Then there is St. Louis Premium Outlets, a 351,532-sq.-ft. outlet center with 90 stores. Woodmont built the center in partnership with Simon Property Group, which owns the Premium Outlet brand.

WS Development

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

WS Development redeveloped 407,751 sq. ft. of space spread among three properties during 2013. The properties include the 300,000-sq.-ft. MarketStreet Lynnfield in Lynnfield, Mass.; the 400,000-sq.-ft. THE STREET in Chestnut Hill, Mass.; and a 44,000-sq.-ft. building at 234 Berkeley St. in Boston.

WS calls the MarketStreet at Lynnfield its most significant project of 2013. It was the redevelopment of a property formerly owned by the Colonial Country Club. Whole Foods Market and Kings anchor the development, which features lululemon athletica, Hot Mama, J.Crew, Sephora, Shoe Market, Pottery Barn and many others. The ongoing project is currently developing an additional 100,000 sq. ft. of shops and restaurants.


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Supply Chain Responsibility


Devastating sourcing and supply chain disasters, including the Bangladesh factory collapse in April 2013, have increased the push for retailers and other businesses to implement sustainable and responsible practices across the global supply chain. Tamara Saucier, VP industry – retail solutions, GT Nexus, discussed the topic, and proactive measures retailers can take, with Chain Store Age.

What can retailers be doing to ensure ethical and sustainable supply chain practices?

The challenge is in knowing where your goods are being made and who’s making them. This is a struggle due to the complexity of multi-tiered supply chains, but there are steps retailers can take to improve the visibility and traceability of the movement of goods throughout the production life cycle, from origin through delivery. Visibility means different things to different companies, but for the sake of ensuring ethical and responsible production of goods, visibility means knowing who every party is in the supply chain starting with raw materials, and tracing the steps in the production cycle to ensure compliance. Doing this from thousands of miles away is difficult.

Where should they start?

The first step is to connect all of the trading partners on an automated, electronic network that enforces workflows and procedures and ensures that the right parties are creating the goods with the right materials, labor and working conditions. It can be a challenge to mandate suppliers to log in to a system and report their steps or milestones in production. But we’ve found that by tying payments to the system, there’s a completely different perspective from the suppliers. By connecting all trading partners in a cloud environment that automates the orders, invoices, documents and payments, retailers have a fighting chance of obtaining visibility into the supply chain to ensure ethically and sustainably produced goods.

Are consumers’ purchasing habits being influenced by how ethical or sustainable a retailer is?

Yes, today’s consumers are tuned in to where goods are made like never before. They want the best possible deal, but they also want to feel good about where the product is coming from and how it has been made. More consumers are demanding responsibly produced goods, and companies that fail to demonstrate ethical production are seeing their brands and stock prices impacted.

What should retailers keep in mind when they are trying to create a more sustainable and ethical supply chain?

It’s important for retailers to remember that suppliers and trading partners are part of the brand and that they can’t be separated. Retailers should have a vested interest in the health and success of their suppliers — sometimes squeezing the last dime out of suppliers is a short-sighted approach. Instead, retailers should find new ways to partner with suppliers to ensure their brand is healthy. For example, leading retailers are offering early payment programs to suppliers to assist in delivering access to capital. A truly collaborative approach is a win-win situation for all parties.

Are there any retailers that come to mind that are doing a good job of making their supply chains lighter?

Companies like Patagonia and Levi Strauss & Co. have well-publicized efforts to do no harm to the environment. Levi has programs that drastically reduce water amounts used in production of its clothes, and Patagonia has marketing campaigns that tell customers NOT to buy their products unless they really need them.

Patagonia also has tools that allow consumers to track the carbon footprints of their products. It’s one thing for a company to talk about sustainability, but consumers really embrace a brand when they are able to put their money where their mouth is.

What tools or technology can facilitate retailers’ efforts in producing and sourcing goods more responsibly?

Tools that deliver visibility and accountability within the production of goods are making an impact. A retailer is in a good position to enforce responsible production policies if they are able to see where goods and inventory are in the supply chain, know each party that touched the goods in the process, and track and manage the delivery of goods to minimize shipping miles and carbon footprints.


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