Cole Real Estate Investments has been busy snapping up premier retail assets in the suburbs of secondary markets all year, and White Oak Village in Richmond, Va., is its latest acquisition. The company bought the 439,700-square-foot power center from Laburnum Investment L.L.C., an entity of Forest City Enterprises Inc., for $68 million.
Forest City developed White Oak four years ago and today, the property boasts an occupancy level of 95.5 percent, outperforming the recovering Richmond market by a notable margin. The average vacancy rate in Richmond was 9.6 percent in the third quarter, according to commercial real estate services firm CBRE Group Inc., which represented the seller in the transaction.
Cole is not shy about shopping around in markets that don’t come near the top of the list of buyers’ most coveted investment locations. Earlier this fall the company announced the purchase of the 165,000-square-foot Hillside Town Center in Hillside, Ill., in suburban Chicago, for $27 million; and the 276,000-square-foot Barrow Crossing in Winder, Ga., approximately 50 miles east of Atlanta, for $35.9 million.
The assets may not have a presence near big-time markets like Washington, D.C., or New York City, but they certainly have their advantages. “Each of these acquisitions is a great fit for our disciplined investment criteria,” Scott Holmes, a senior vice president with Cole, said in a prepared statement. “Each center has strong credit, national anchor tenants on long-term leases, and is located in an established trade area in close proximity to major highways, providing easy access for shoppers.”
Cole may not be done for the year. The firm has a shopping budget of as much as $3 billion for the purchase of premier commercial assets in 2012.