Regency Centers adds strategy for 'wow' factor

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  • | 12:00 p.m. May 13, 2015
Regency Centers Corp. President and COO Brian Smith and Chairman and CEO Martin "Hap" Stein.
Regency Centers Corp. President and COO Brian Smith and Chairman and CEO Martin "Hap" Stein.
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Regency Centers Corp.’s business strategy is “cycle tested” to succeed in good times and bad and with the economy moving up, 2014 was a strong year for the Jacksonville-based shopping center developer.

“Our performance was stellar in all the critical facets of our business,” Chairman and CEO Martin “Hap” Stein said at Tuesday’s annual shareholders meeting at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club.

The strong performance included core funds from operations growth of 7 percent and a balance sheet that “compares favorably to other blue-chip REITs,” or real estate investment trusts, Stein said.

“These impressive results translated into total returns for shareholders of over 40 percent in 2014 and 90 percent for the last three years,” he said.

That beat the Standard & Poor’s 500 index’s total return of 13.7 percent last year and 74.6 percent over the last three years.

Regency owned all or part of 322 shopping centers in 23 states at the end of 2014, most of which are anchored by grocery stores.

President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Smith said the company has initiated a “Fresh Look” strategy to enhance its portfolio.

That strategy includes providing an attractive environment “that makes shoppers want to visit,” Smith said, plus merchants “that have that ‘wow’ factor.”

One of Regency’s new properties he highlighted is the Brooklyn Station on Riverside center that opened in Jacksonville last year. The 50,000-square-foot property anchored by The Fresh Market is 88 percent leased, with commitments that will increase occupancy to 95 percent.

With the neighborhood growing, Regency expects that shopping center to be very successful.

“It’s probably the hottest area of Jacksonville,” Smith said.

Although online buying is a threat to brick-and-mortar retailers, Smith said 69 percent of Regency’s tenants are in Internet-resistant businesses. Besides grocery stores, that includes health clubs, medical facilities and restaurants.

“Only 2 percent of our portfolio consists of goods that really are at risk,” he said.

Stein said Regency is fully equipped to handle changing trends.

“We firmly believe that by persistently executing Regency’s tried-and-true strategy, we will not only safely navigate the challenges we face, but will also continue to distinguish Regency as a leading shopping center company and blue chip REIT,” he said.

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