Slate Retail REIT Goes on $107M Buying Spree

The purchase of a group of seven grocery-anchored shopping centers is a major step in the company’s strategy of enhancing its holdings.
Indian Lakes Crossing. Image via Google Street View

Slate Retail REIT will soon enhance its holdings with the acquisition of a 623,800-square-foot portfolio of high-quality retail assets in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Slate entered a binding agreement to purchase the group of seven grocery-anchored shopping centers from Armada Hoffler for $106.5 million.

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The portfolio deal is big news for Slate, as the REIT hasn’t precisely been on a buying binge of late. “Although we have sacrificed growth over the last two years, our disciplined strategy has allowed us to de-risk the balance sheet and recycle capital to upgrade the property portfolio,” David Dunn, chief operating officer of State Retail REIT, said during the company’s fourth quarter 2019 financial results call on February 26, 2020 . “These tradeoffs will benefit the business for the next several years.”

The collection of well-located properties encompasses three assets in North Carolina, including Harper Hill Commons in Winston-Salem, and metropolitan Charlotte’s Renaissance Square and Alexander Pointe, the smallest of the group at 57,700 square feet. An additional three assets are located in Virginia: Gainsborough Square and Indian Lakes Crossing in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News MSA, and Bermuda Crossing, which, with 122,600 square feet of space, is the largest asset in the portfolio. Stone House Square in Hagerstown, Md., in the Washington-Baltimore market, completes the group.

Slate’s new additions count market-dominant grocers Harris Teeter, Food Lion and Weis Markets as anchors. And together, the shopping centers boast an average occupancy level of 92 percent. Slate plans to rely on existing balance sheet capital to finance the acquisition, which is on schedule to close in the second quarter of 2020.

Shopping for shopping centers

Taking additional steps to elevate the quality of its portfolio is a major goal for Toronto-based Slate this year; the pure-play U.S. grocery-anchored real estate company plans to invest as much as $200 million in acquisitions. “Our strategy is to continue to look at attractive markets by accretive deals, demographics, population and economic growth, strong employment. All of that is a high priority for our strategy. We always want to buy the top one to two grocers in each MSA,” Dunn said during the call. “We are going to focus east of the Mississippi going forward, but if opportunities present themselves, we will take a look at them and assess them as they come.”

With a robust pipeline of acquisition prospects, Slate has recently announced it is nearing completion of an $858 million, three-part refinancing package that will help the company capitalize on investment opportunities.