Slate Retail Closes $90M Portfolio Purchase

The REIT paid nearly $17 million less than the total specified in the original purchase and sale agreement for the 623,800-square-foot collection of grocery-anchored properties.
Harper Hill Commons. Image courtesy of Armada Hoffler Inc.

Slate Retail REIT has closed on the $90 million acquisition of a 623,800-square-foot grocery-anchored portfolio two months after announcing it would purchase the group of seven properties at a price of $106.5 million. The transaction with seller Armada Hoffler Properties Inc. didn’t precisely go as originally planned.

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Slate’s newly acquired portfolio includes Virginia’s Bermuda Crossroads in Richmond, as well as Gainsborough Square and Indian Lakes Crossing, both of which are located in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News MSA. Stone House Square in metropolitan Baltimore completes the Mid-Atlantic segment of the group. The remaining assets are sited in North Carolina and include Harper Hill Commons in Winston-Salem, along with Alexander Pointe and Renaissance Square in Charlotte. Built between 1997 and 2008, the centers range in size from roughly 57,700 to 122,600 square feet. At the time of the sale, the portfolio was 92 percent leased, with market-leading grocers Harris Teeter, Food Lion and Weis Markets serving as anchors.

Undone deal

While the retail collection fits Toronto-based Slate’s strategy of upgrading its portfolio with high-quality assets in markets with solid population and economic growth, the pure-play U.S. grocery-anchored real estate company walked away from the properties mid-transaction. In April, Slate revealed that the deal with Armada was unlikely to proceed. Timing of the announcement evoked questions of a COVID-19-related change of heart, but such was not the case.

“As we progressed, certain closing conditions in favor of the REIT were not satisfied and we exercised rights available to us within the purchase and sale agreement, and we ended up not closing the deal,” David Dunn, CEO of Slate Retail REIT, said during the company’s first quarter 2020 earnings conference call on May 13. Slate and Armada later returned to the negotiating table and amended and restated the agreement. Under the terms of the new deal, the price dropped from $171 to $144 per square foot, a price that Dunn described in a prepared statement, as well below replacement cost.

Delayed reaction

The national retail real estate sector is certainly suffering pandemic-related challenges, but any impact on asset values had yet to emerge at the start of the second quarter. According to a report by Real Capital Analytics, price growth in the retail sector continued to rise into April, increasing 0.9 percent over the previous three months and 3.1 percent year-over-year. “The sector has been one of the hardest hit due to the widespread shuttering of stores and restaurants and multiple national retailers filing for bankruptcy, but impacts from these closures have not yet flowed through to pricing, as owners are not yet forced to sell,” according to the RCA report.