Westwood Financial Opens Fourth Atlanta Office
- Apr 01, 2011
March 31, 2011
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor
The retail market in Atlanta is slowly inching its way out of a depression and Westwood Financial Corp. is preparing to capitalize on the impending rebound with the opening of a new management office in metropolitan Atlanta. The new location in Kennesaw, Ga., is the shopping center owner and operator’s fourth regional office in Atlanta.
At the helm of the new office is senior property manager Martha Stocks, who boasts a history of over a dozen years in retail property management. Stock and staff operate out of Main Street at Town Center, a 113,600-square-foot shopping center that Westwood acquired in December.
Fundamentals in the Atlanta-area retail market are showing signs of improvement. Although still quite high, the area’s overall vacancy rate of 23.5 percent in 2010 marked a significant decline from the 24.7 percent vacancy rate in 2009, according to a report by commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield Inc. Additionally, the city experienced positive absorption of 3,395 square feet last year, a notable improvement over the 5,472 square feet of negative absorption in 2009.
Westwood’s opening of the new Atlanta-area office dovetails with its plans for the next five years. The company intends to increase its retail holdings in the Peach State by 100 percent during that period as part of its goal of expanding its portfolio of properties throughout the Southeast. Westwood CEO & founding partner Steven Fogel noted that the expected population growth and overall regional development in Georgia boded well for the company’s strategy as it continues to grow.
Westwood’s expansion endeavor will not only take the company’s presence deeper into the Southeast, it will increase the company’s footprint across the US. Westwood remains on the hunt for mature grocery-anchored neighborhood shopping centers and urban-anchored or unanchored retail properties in major cities. However, if 2010 is any indication, the company is certainly willing to keep its shopping options open. Last year, Westwood acquired a 68-property national retail portfolio totaling over 3.1 million square feet from McDonald’s Corp. The group of assets, which spans 28 states, includes two- and four-tenant net-leased properties, in addition to former McDonald’s locations and vacant development sites.