The ICSC Blog

ICSC Interview with Timothy J. Bruce, Executive Vice President of Leasing Redevelopment, Brixmor Property Group Inc.

Bruce_Timothy.jpgInterview conducted and condensed by Michael Lagazo

Brixmor Property Group Inc. (NYSE: BRX) owns and operates the nation’s largest wholly-owned portfolio of grocery-anchored community and neighborhood shopping centers, with 522 properties aggregating approximately 87 million square feet of gross leasable area located primarily across the top 50 U.S. metro markets. On November 4, 2013, Brixmor announced that it has completed its initial public offering resulting in gross proceeds of $948.8 million.

Mr. Timothy J. Bruce is the Executive President of Leasing & Redevelopment at Brixmor. Mr. Bruce reported occupancy had improved to 92.4% percent at September 30, 2013 – the 11th consecutive quarter year-over-year improvement in occupancy. Mr. Bruce added that this was the 26th month of consecutive rent growth.

What role are urgent care centers, medical and dental offices playing in leasing?

In 2013, 59 leases for healthcare tenants were signed in the portfolio. Increases are anticipated in 2014 consistently across all regions.

What types of operators are you targeting?
Regional healthcare providers, hospitals in the area, healthcare providers looking for premium retail space, outparcels. With 30 million more people required to have insurance through the Affordable Care Act, we anticipate greater leasing.

Brixmor Kroger New Chastain Corners Marietta GA.JPGWhat categories of tenants are you doing the most leasing with?
Large formats in the 10,000 – 20,000 square foot range. Retailers like ULTA, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ross (Dress for Less), TJMaxx, Hobby Lobby, and Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.

In the 5,000 – 10,000 square foot arena, operators like Five Below, Panera Bread, Lumber Liquidators, and Unleashed by Petco – small pet formats are successful.

In small shop leasing, multiple deals are being signed. Great Clips, Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, GNC, and Subway.

Besides the growth in base rent, are there other lease terms that you are seeing swinging towards the landlords’ favor, whether they are annual bumps, or tenant rights, or other things along those lines?
Consistent annual increases in shop space with better co-tenancy clauses, favorable exclusivity, tighter rent commencement dates, we are able to negotiate less control of the common area.

How is demand in for the junior and mid-box segments? Which retailers are the most active in these spaces?
Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, Ross (Dress for Less), TJMaxx, Homegoods, Marshalls, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and L.A. Fitness.

Brixmor Fresh Easy Rose Pavilion Pleasanton CA.JPGOn small shop leasing, who are you generally leasing to?  Is it more franchises and national / regional vs. local tenants?
With capital not readily available for small business, we are focusing on national / regional and franchisors with good credit. Multiple deals are being signed with franchise operations such as Great Clips, Subway, Jimmy John’s, and UPS.

Are you confident that momentum in small shop leasing will continue for Brixor and what gives you confidence that it will accelerate?
Past performance indicates that small shop has occupancy increased and will continue to do so.

Besides project repositioning, is new construction a part of Brixmor’s strategy in achieving NOI goals? In the Q4 2013 National Retail Trends report, Reis Reports indicates that construction during the fourth quarter of 2.1 million square feet was the highest since the fourth quarter of 2007 in the retail sector.
We do not do new developments. Rather, we are focused on value-creating anchor space repositioning / redevelopment opportunities. We completed 26 redevelopment and/or anchor space repositioning projects in 2013. We currently have 19 redevelopment and/or anchor space repositioning projects in process.
Brixmor Target Victory Square Savannah GA.JPGWhat about ICSC RECon in May 2014 are you looking forward to?
At ICSC RECon, we are bringing 60 or more deal makers, and have a 7,000 sq. ft. booth. As you know this year’s event is starting at 12pm on Sunday so we are busy making appointments. Appointments have already been booked with national accounts, coordinate leasing office with the field to cast a very comprehensive net over retail community and to use time efficiently.

Reis Reports further states that the “national vacancy rate for neighborhood and community shopping centers declined by 10 basis points during the fourth quarter to 10.4%. This was a slight improvement versus last quarter when vacancy was unchanged, but more or less in line with the pace of vacancy compression since the market began to recover two years ago. Mall owners…have sought to reposition their malls when possible to capitalize on this.”

Credits:
Data and Q4 2013 National Retail Trends analysis provided by Reis Reports, https://www.reisreports.com/
Images provided by Brixmor Property Group Inc., http://brixmor.com/

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