NewMark Merrill Snags 1.2 MSF Assignment

The firm was chosen by World Premier Investments and United American Properties to oversee four of the partners' shopping centers in California and Illinois.

January 27, 2011
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

In one fell swoop, NewMark Merrill Cos. has enhanced its retail property management portfolio by nearly 1.2 million square feet. The firm won an assignment from World Premier Investments and United American Properties to oversee four of the partners’ shopping centers in California and Illinois.

Three of the assets are located in Southern California. Grand Plaza (pictured), a 356,000 square-foot shopping center in San Marcos, about 35 miles north of San Diego, is 95 percent leased with a tenant roster featuring such national chains as Bed Bath and Beyond, Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack and Petco. The management portfolio includes another San Marcos property, Nordahl Marketplace, a 315,000 square-foot center with a 96 percent occupancy level and a list of anchors that includes Walmart and Kohl’s. The third California retail destination is the 119,000 square-foot, 85-percent leased Heritage Plaza, which sits in the Orange County city of Riverside and is home to an Albertsons grocery store, 99 Cent Only Store, Rent-A-Center, Starbucks and a host of other retailers. Rounding out the portfolio is the 362,500 square-foot Peru marketplace in Peru, Ill. Walmart and Kohl’s are among the offerings at the over 90-percent occupied property, and a PetSmart will soon debut.

NewMark Merrill will apply its own special approach to managing the shopping centers. “We work at the tenant-level providing promotional and marketing support, which is a hallmark of ours,” Sandy Sigal, president and CEO of NewMark Merrill, told CPE. “We do promotion on site, we do a lot of things to keep tenants viable and we’ve been pretty successful in helping our clients perform extraordinarily well through the recession, which helps the value of the property. World Premier Investments and Untied American Properties’ tenants will see more of our marketing people moving forward.”

It’s not just talk; NewMark Merrill has the number to back up its achievements. The firm’s portfolio of owned and/or managed retail properties maintained a stabilized leasing rate of over 93 percent during the economic downturn. A few factors contribute to NewMark Merrill’s success including the fact that the firm has long focused on owning centers in high-demand areas where such issues as a housing collapse will not have a substantial negative impact. And then there’s the firm’s application of its accounting expertise to its management style. “We’ve always kept a pulse on how our tenants are doing,” Sigal said. “Approximately 80 percent of them report their sales to us so when the market turned, we were able to monitor their performance and help them. We own about half of the assets that we manage, so we have a hands-on ownership perspective when it comes to management.”