Thinking ahead, WHLR proactively managed its exposure to volatile capital markets and an inflationary environment. In 2021, the company refinanced all its loans that were set to mature within seven years, garnering the REIT low cost, fixed-rate debt set for the next 10 years. In addition, WHLR’s focus on the service, convenience and necessity retail tenant categories in secondary and tertiary markets has helped shield the company from the impacts of inflation risk, explains Andy Franklin, CEO of WHLR. The company’s 2022 merger with Cedar Realty Trust also helped forge a stronger presence in some urban markets while growing the REIT to more than 70 shopping centers.
REIT investors want to see stability in rent collection, especially in a volatile economy. Well-operated REITs have not only protected themselves by leasing to strong, stable tenants but also have a good working knowledge of the headwinds their tenants and shoppers face. Creating strong centers comes in the form of supporting and fostering good relationships with tenants.
Franklin explains why WHLR is positive about its holdings in non-primary markets and the company’s ability to weather economic storms. “Secondary and tertiary markets have an insulating factor to them. REITs have historically pulled away from these markets because Wall Street told them they had to,” says Franklin. “Whereas we’ve always been in that space, and now it’s come into favor.”
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This video was created as part of the Retail Insight newsletter by Shopping Center Business, a brief newsletter series leading up to the ICSC 2023 LAS VEGAS conference and including post-conference video interviews. The videos in the publication are created in conjunction with our content partners, which sponsor the newsletter. Click here to subscribe.