Armada Hoffler Buys 2 VA Retail Centers for $105M

The REIT enhances its already strong presence in Virginia Beach by nearly 500,000 square feet with the addition of Red Mill Commons and Marketplace at Hilltop.
Red Hill Commons. Image via Google Maps

Armada Hoffler Properties has expanded its retail real estate footprint in its hometown of Virginia Beach, Va., by nearly 500,000 square feet with the recent closing of an off-market transaction. The REIT acquired Red Mill Commons and Marketplace at Hilltop from Venture Realty Group in a $105 million deal.

Armada financed part of the acquisition with $5 million in cash and the assumption of $36 million of existing mortgage debt. The bulk of the payment, however, came in the form of the issuing of 4.1 million operating partnership units valued at $15.55 each, providing Venture Realty with significant equity ownership in Armada. Venture Realty will continue to provide property management and leasing services at the retail centers.

Red Mill and Hilltop, developed in the early 2000s on sites that had been home to farmland and a trailer park, respectively, are located less than 10 miles apart in high barrier-to-entry submarkets. A 374,000-square-foot property, Red Mill is 97 percent occupied and home to a host of national chains including T.J. Maxx, Dollar Tree, Walgreens and three shadow anchors. Hilltop encompasses 118,000 square feet and a 100 percent full tenant roster featuring retailers such as Total Wine and Michaels.

Marketplace at Hilltop. Image via Google Maps

The Virginia Beach shopping centers appear to be a long-term hold for Armada. During the REIT’s first quarter earnings conference call on May 2, 2019, Louis Haddad, president & CEO of Armada Hoffler Properties, reiterated that well-located, high-volume retail assets will remain a significant part of the company’s growth, adding that expectations are for Red Mill and Hilltop to generate significant net operating income for many years into the future.

Market strength

The Virginia Beach retail sector is faring relatively well. The market recorded a vacancy rate of 5.2 percent in the first quarter of 2019, according to a report by Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, compared to the U.S. average of 6.4 percent. And despite the concerns pervading the national retail sector across the board, including store e-commerce competition, the future bodes well for Virginia Beach and the Hampton Roads area in general. Per the report, while there have been many store closure announcements throughout Hampton Roads, there is an increasing number of stores opening and expanding, including national eateries, fitness chains and entertainment tenants.

At the close of the first quarter, Armada Hoffler’s retail holdings in Virginia Beach consisted of 12 assets, including Columbus Village II, a 92,000-square-foot retail and entertainment center that the REIT purchased in late 2016. The majority of the company’s portfolio, which consists of office, retail and multifamily properties across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S., is located in the State of Virginia.