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Retail Looks Optimistic

San Diego

This is how you spot a market bubblet. You can see why we like Gerrity Group managing partner Bill Gerrity and asked him to speak at Bisnow's Retail Real Estate Summit, held yesterday. He tells us his firm has acquired 14 shopping centers totaling 1.6M SF since spring 2011. The firm focuses on value-add neighborhood centers in California, Washington, and Oregon, with plans to expand into Arizona and Colorado. Bill sits on the boards of two nonprofits: New America Foundation, a DC-based think tank, and Zocalo Public Square, "to be around bright, creative people who generate interesting ideas in areas unrelated to real estate."

Another one of our speakers was Regency Centers SVP Gregg Sadowsky, who tells us the company is launching a refresh of the Ralphs- and Trader Joe's-anchored Uptown District center in the Hillcrest neighborhood, and is redeveloping Balboa Mesa shopping Center at Balboa and Genesee avenues. They're two of the nine shopping centers Regency owns in San Diego totaling 1.7M SF. The company is trying to elevate its centers into thriving neighborhood gathering places. A focus on food and restaurants are integral, as are cool tenants like the Taiwan bakery chain 85 Degrees, which selected a Regency center for one of its first San Diego locations.

HP Investors focuses on urban retail and hospitality, having acquired some 20 assets since the firm's formation in 2010. Principal Sumeet Parekh (who also spoke at our event--notice a theme here?) tells us HP recently partnered with Clarion to buy the largest retail property in the Gaslamp District: Gaslamp City Square, a full city block in Downtown San Diego. In six months, the firm will also break ground on a 140-room Starwood hotel on the I-15 Corridor in Rancho Bernardo. HP is targeting $100M to $150M in acquisitions per year, according to Sumeet, who previously worked with The Carlyle Group in NYC. He and wife Sophie have one child with another due in April.

Allen Matkins partner Mike Holmes (camping in Yosemite with sons Mason and Martin, and wife Mary) was our moderator. Citing an uptick last year in San Diegans' consumer confidence, he sees optimism for strong retail growth in 2014. That's borne out by Mike's own practice repping shopping center owners. Vacancies have declined, landlords are seeing increased demand for space, and even the oldest leases are comparable with market rates. Mike's firm repped Terramar in its recent redevelopment of the historic San Diego Police HQ into The Headquarters at Seaport District.