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Asians Rule the Grocer Market

The US Asian American community's buying power is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2017, according to a new Nielsen report, and the grocery store format is their single most-shopped channel. Here's how Kimco Realty is taking advantage of that lucrative stat within one of the highest Asian populations outside of Asia.

We chatted with VP of leasing and asset management for the Western Region David Jamieson, whose company owns and operates North America’s largest portfolio of neighborhood and community shopping centers. Kimco's recent redevelopment project at Cupertino Village across from the new Apple 2 campus has an Asian-oriented shopping center (the Taiwanese grocer 99 Ranch Market, Joy Luck Palace, Ten Ren Tea, Sheng Kee Bakery). Cupertino just got a second 99 Ranch Market, which shows the grocer segment is performing well. The supply of grocers and shops targeted to the Asian American community has, however, been outpaced by demand and he's working to fill the void where ethnic populations are concentrated on the West Coast.

Kimco's flagship Westlake Shopping Center in Daly City is rich in Asian tenants (Little Fire Pot, Dae Jang Guem Tofu House, Sheng Kee Bakery, and the National Asian American Coalition). Westlake's retail occupancy is one of the highest in its portfolio, which is a testament to the strength of the economy. The Taiwanese 85˚C Bakery Cafe at Bixby Hacienda Plaza in Hacienda Heights, which has fresh-baked goods, caffeine, and a contemporary design, appeals to a broad range of consumers. Kimco works with brokers of Asian descent who speak Mandarin, he says. Kimco's office is in Daly City, so Dave says he lives and breathes that market.

The overall Bay Area shopping center market is extremely competitive, with a lot of investments chasing few deals—and that drives pricing to a point that makes it difficult to buy. That aside, he's always surveying the market to see where Kimco can purchase something to potentially deploy its redevelopment expertise. Kimco has allocated almost $800M into the redevelopment pipeline at various stages of development or conceptual design across the US. His quick thoughts from ICSC is there's a tremendous amount of activity, with a visible change in energy at the conference from four years ago. Retailers that were mall centric are now exploring new formats to come into the strip center space, he says.