Branch Properties continues optimism in face of pandemic

ATLANTA, May 14, 2020 – As economic forecasters look for glimmers of hope in an economy rocked by the Covid-19 pandemic, a local real estate developer is banking on the stability of a market segment that has successfully adapted to new realities: grocery stores.

Atlanta-based Branch Properties recently acquired land to build a shopping center in Tucker and closed a loan to build another in Dunwoody. The common denominator is both centers will be anchored by Publix supermarkets.

 “Our business model has long been based on developing and revitalizing shopping centers anchored by grocery stores,” said Jesse Shannon, chief investment officer of Branch Properties. “Grocery-anchored retail has lagged behind the multi-family and industrial asset classes in terms of rent growth and exit capitalization rates for the last 10 years but has a proven history of providing strong risk-adjusted returns in times of economic disruption. The pandemic has provided an exaggerated case study on grocery performance during economic shocks. After all, food is essential to life.”

Branch Properties is moving forward with its business strategies based on the belief that grocery stores could serve as a bellwether of economic recovery within the real estate market.

When consumer confidence is waning and capital for new real estate development is potentially more difficult to secure, one thing remains constant: consumers buy groceries. Coupled with historically low interest rates, supermarkets and shopping centers anchored by grocery stores continue to be good investments for companies like Branch Properties.

“The retail acquisition market may be somewhat stabilized in future months by the strength of supermarket sales,” Shannon said. “While other types of retail stores have been temporarily shuttered, grocery sales remain strong. Supermarket tenants continue to pay rent, which helps keep these centers afloat while we wait for the rest of the retail sector to reopen.”

Perimeter Marketplace, Dunwoody, Ga.

Branch Properties has secured capital to begin development of Perimeter Marketplace, near the Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody. The developer owns 10 acres of land at the northwest intersection of Ashford Dunwoody and Meadow Lane roads. The intersection is well-traveled with 52,000 vehicle trips per day, and more than 110,000 residents live within three miles of the intersection.

A 25,147-square-foot Publix will anchor the new center, which will be comprised of multiple retail tenants occupying an additional 39,150 square feet. Publix and several other future tenants have already signed leases.

Hugh Howell Village, Tucker, Ga.

Branch Properties recently purchased 14 acres in Tucker to develop Hugh Howell Village. The developer plans to build a neighborhood shopping center anchored by a 48,000-square-foot Publix, which will relocate from a nearby shopping center about a quarter of a mile away.

Hugh Howell Village will sit on the northeast corner of Hugh Howell Road and Mountain Industrial Blvd. In addition to the new Publix, Branch Properties plans to develop about 35,000 square feet of retail shops in three new buildings and two new outparcel buildings.

The site is attractive due to its proximity to I-285, which is less than 4 miles away, and being on a high-trafficked corner with over 60,000 vehicle trips per day and strong demographics within a 3-mile trade area.

Westridge Square ownership changes hands

       The $38.38 million asset transfer, which closed Monday, comes on the heels of a four-year effort by Branch Properties to overhaul the center, attract a new mix of tenants, and bring Westridge Square to fully leased status.

       The multi-million-dollar renovation and reconfiguration of the 182,000-square-foot shopping center was highlighted by the addition of Sprouts Farmers Market, a supermarket chain headquartered in Phoenix. The upscale grocer moved into the 30,524-square-foot space previously occupied by Harris Teeter.

        Reconfiguring Westridge Square also involved downsizing the Kohl’s department store—one of the first Kohl’s in the U.S. to transition to a smaller footprint—to make room for Planet Fitness.

      “Westridge Square was a smart investment for Branch Properties because it is great real estate in a strong Southeastern market,” said Brett Horowitz, vice president and asset manager. “We had tremendous success with the redevelopment of Battleground Village, and so we knew the corridor was ripe for renovation. We enjoy doing business in the Greensboro community and look forward to investing in the Triad again in the future,” Horowitz said.

     Westridge Square changes hands / 2 Located at Battleground Ave. and Westridge Road, the center also includes seven outparcel buildings, bringing the total square footage to approximately 215,000.

Berkley Capital Advisors represented Branch Properties in the transaction.

Cook Out, health clinic coming to revamped Triad shopping center

New businesses will continue to “Sprout” up at a Triad shopping center rejuvenated, at least in part, by the addition of a unique grocery store.

The arrival of Sprouts Farmers Market (NASDAQ: SFM), which opened at Westridge Square, has spurred activity at the shopping center at the corner of Battleground Avenue and Westridge Road in Greensboro. The location is Sprouts’ first in the Triad. In the past year, the Thai Square and Vitality Bowls restaurants have opened near Sprouts, facing Battleground. NAPA Auto Parts opened in a former Rite Aid store on the shopping center’s north wing, where Title Boxing Club, a fitness studio chain, moved late last summer. Planet Fitness opened on the south end.

Brett Horowitz, an asset manager and partner at Westridge Square owner Branch Properties, told Triad Business Journal that IORA Primary Care will open a 6,700-square-foot health care facility in September. Cook Out has signed to open a restaurant on the site of the former Mrs. Winner’s Chicken and Biscuits on an outparcel along Battleground. Horowitz told TBJ that he’s in negotiations for the only two remaining vacancies at the 215,000-square-foot shopping center, and hopes to have them filled in “the next 30 days.” Branch has made a “multi-million investment” in Westridge Square in the past few years, according to Horowitz, who said improvements were made to the interior as well as exterior. Founded in 1973 and based in Atlanta, Branch is a private real estate investment firm whose primary focus is high-quality, grocery-anchored shopping centers in the Southeast. Horowitz said Sprouts has other stores in Branch properties. IORA’s space was formerly part of a 50,000-square-foot Harris Teeter store that closed in 2017. Sprouts just over 30,000 square feet with a store size typical of the Phoenix-based chain’s footprint. Kohl’s is the largest store at Westridge Square with about 55,000 square feet. Planet Fitness has 32,000 square feet. “I think the center’s come a long way,” Horowitz told TBJ. “Sprouts has lifted up the entire property. We know the importance of having a grocery store.”

The area around Westridge Square is changing, too. On an outparcel at Battleground and Westridge, Village Tavern recently completed major renovations. Behind the shopping center on Whitehurst Road, Harmony at Greensboro senior community is under construction. The Battleground corridor has become a battleground for grocery stores, in particular specialty stores. Sprouts competitor Earth Fare recently completed a multi-million renovation of its store in Battleground Village. Construction is underway on Greensboro’s first Trader Joe’s at Battleground and New Garden Road.

Harris Teeter (NYSE: KR), Food Lion, Target (NYSE: TGT) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) also have Battleground stores.

Branch Properties begins next phase of apartment complex

Real estate developer Branch Properties, LLC, and general contractor Summit Contracting Group, Inc., have begun the third phase of a mixed-use residential development on 50 acres in northwest metro Atlanta.

“West Village is a vibrant, master-planned community being developed to serve the burgeoning rental market in affluent Cobb County,” said Jack Haylett, Senior Vice President of Branch Properties. “We continue to remain active on the multifamily front in communities where there is strong demand for thoughtful development and quality construction.”

Phase III of West Village, located in Cobb County, Ga., a bedroom community northwest of Atlanta, will include 313 apartments and 470 parking spaces on nine acres. The apartments will range in size from 660-square-foot studios to 1,484-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath apartments. Branch Properties is the owner and developer, and Summit Contracting Group is the general contractor.

West Village has succeeded in large part due to Cobb County’s thriving economy and 10.8% population growth since 2010. Branch Properties assembled the 50-acre site in 2005, developing 292 Class A multifamily units and 68,000 square feet of retail in the first phase of construction.

Branch Properties completed the second phase of West Village in 2011, adding another 188 apartments, before selling to MidAmerica Apartment Communities in 2014. West Village received a “Development of Excellence” Award from the Atlanta Regional Commission in 2007.

Amenities will include a 3,000-square-foot public library, as well as a fitness center, dog park, pool and courtyard for residents. Construction is expected to be complete in early 2021 with the first group of apartment units coming on the market in Spring 2020.

Branch Properties Acquires Two Grocery-Anchored Shopping Centers for $57 Million

Roswell, Ga. and Leland, N.C. — Branch Properties has acquired two grocery-anchored shopping centers in the Southeast. The first, Roswell Market Place, is a 95,522-square-foot shopping center anchored by Sprouts Farmers Market. Branch Properties bought the asset for $32 million. The center, which is located at 10800 Alpharetta Highway, 24 miles north of downtown Atlanta, was built in 1986 and renovated two years ago. Roswell Market Place was 88 percent leased at the time of the sale.     

 The second property is Waterford Village, a 108,249-square-foot shopping center anchored by Harris Teeter that was purchased for $25 million. Waterford Village sits on 15.8 acres at 2013 Olde Waterford Way in Leland, North Carolina, nine miles west of downtown Wilmington. The asset was 90 percent leased at the time of the sale.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe one of four new restaurants opening in East Brainerd

New restaurants are flowing into the Waterside retail center in East Brainerd — at least four are to open by the first part of 2019 — and the owner of one of them cites a pair of key anchor stores.

“People love Publix. Same thing with REI Co-op,” said Paul Neumaier, co-owner of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe slated to open Thursday at 2380 Lifestyle Way.

Waterside, after a slow time gaining traction earlier this decade off Shallowford Road near Interstate 75, is about 90 percent leased up, according to developer Branch Properties of Atlanta.  Read full story

Branch Signs Three Tenants to Westridge Square Center in North Carolina

Greensboro, N.C. — Branch Properties LLC has signed three tenants to Westridge Square, a 215,000-square-foot shopping center in Greensboro.

The Atlanta-based real estate company originally acquired the center and its seven outparcel buildings in 2015, and is currently modernizing and re-tenanting the property. Planned renovations include raising the parapets and upgrading the building materials to include brick, metal and wood.

Read full story

Redeveloped Florida Center Reaches Capacity

Branch Properties announced that its Island Walk at Palm Coast in Florida is now 100% leased following a $40 million redevelopment.

Prior to the re-do, the 200,000 sq. ft. center had minimal visibility from Palm Coast Parkway. It now features an open concept and a new façade. Publix added 56,000 sq. ft. to its supermarket there, and two outparcels were added for Chase Bank and IHOP.    Read full story

Drake’s, Cyclebar, Havertys and more headed to Village at Waterside near Hamilton Place

One of the newest restaurants slated to open at the Village at Waterside retail center near Hamilton Place mall aims to curb a variety of cravings ranging from burgers to tacos and even sushi.

The eclectic mix makes up the menu at Drake’s, a part of the Lexington, Kentucky-based Bluegrass Hospitality Group, and includes traditional American-style pub food, including hand-pressed burgers, mini sandwiches, Sriracha wings, build-your-own tacos and an extensive sushi menu, said Leela Foley, a spokesperson for Bluegrass Hospitality Group.

The restaurant plans to open for business in January at the retail center and 162,000 square feet of commercial development taking shape north of Shallowford Road along Interstate-75. Read full story

Branch Properties Acquires Center in Affluent Huntsville Neighborhood

ATLANTA – Branch Properties, an Atlanta-based private real estate investment firm, recently closed on the acquisition of a TJ Maxx, Michaels, and Stein Mart-anchored neighborhood shopping center located in Huntsville, AL.  Situated in the densely-populated and affluent suburbs south of the Huntsville CBD, the center was purchased from Inland Real Estate Corporation.

Westbury Square is a 120,409 square foot neighborhood center anchored by high-performing TJ Maxx, Michael’s, and Stein Mart stores located in Huntsville, Alabama.  The shopping center includes national tenants such as Metro Diner, Chicken Salad Chick, Captain D’s, BB&T, Moe’s, Jenny Craig, Jimmy John’s, and Cricket Wireless, as well as local institutions such as Rolo’s Café and Surin of Thailand.  The center is well-located on 12.10 acres in the dense and affluent suburbs south of Huntsville.  It is situated along the area’s predominate north-south arterial road, Memorial Parkway aka US 231 (71,500 Vehicles Per Day), at its intersection with Airport Road (31,000 Vehicles Per Day).  Within a 3-mile radius of Westbury Square, there is a population of over 48,500 people with an average household income of $70,400, well-above the national average.