Stable Development and Leasing Drive Sembler to Another Growth Year

The Sembler Company recorded solid growth in 2017 across all its platforms, including shopping center and BTS development, acquisitions and dispositions, leasing and operations.

Sembler has approximately 480,000 square feet under development across the Southeast with strong growth in the grocery-anchored sector accounting for the majority of development.

This year, Sembler broke ground on Amberly Place, a Publix-anchored, non-traditional shopping center in Cary, NC. The Disston Plaza redevelopment in St. Petersburg, FL is underway as well and includes the revitalization of a Publix on one of St. Petersburg’s busiest intersections.

Chief Executive Officer Ron Wheeler notes that even in an era in which online retailing is expanding, grocery shoppers still prefer the ‘in-store experience’.

“The vast majority of shoppers in the U.S. buy their groceries in stores or have delivery orders fulfilled in a brick and mortar store. The shops surrounding these stores are heavily trending to tenants who provide an experience you can’t get online.”

The leasing and third-party property management teams added 436,703 square feet to the portfolio in 2017, and renewed 242,000 sf of existing leases with a 95% occupancy rates across all its centers, including Sembler-owned and third-party properties throughout the southeastern U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Health and wellness tenants, along with beauty and fitness purveyors and restaurants have been a big trend in Sembler centers this year.

Steve Althoff, Sembler Senior Vice President of Leasing explains, “The great majority of our tenancy today has shifted to these uses and that trend should continue for the foreseeable future.”

Acquisitions and Dispositions
In 2017, The Sembler Company and Forge Capital Partners, in their Forge Real Estate Partners (FREP) investment fund, purchased the Humblewood Center near Houston, TX and Seneca Square in Charlotte, NC.

Humblewood Center is a 172,897-square-foot project, anchored by Petco, Skechers and a newly expanded, high-performing Conn’s Home Plus. Strategically located at the dominant retail intersection of Houston’s far northeast submarket, the center is situated near the regional Deerbrook Mall and the Deerbrook Marketplace power center.

Seneca Square is a 77,055-square-foot community shopping center in the heart of Charlotte’s southern light rail corridor, located on the inbound side of South Boulevard. Anchored by Office Depot, the center’s location in one of the densest retail districts in Charlotte, fronting one of the city’s most populous residential areas, providing an exceptional value-add opportunity.

“The shopping center market is very healthy,” stated Sean Davis, Sembler’s Chief Investment Officer. “And Sembler has a unique ability to create value in acquisitions by employing our development, leasing and operating expertise to underperforming properties.”

In addition, Sembler completed the development of The Shoppes at Trinity Lake, a 70,000 square foot Publix-anchored center in Trinity, Florida and sold it in July.

Sembler’s Build-To-Suit division delivered projects for users in the categories of quick-serve and fast casual restaurants, fuel and oil change facilities, mattress stores and others including:

• Take 5 Oil – St. Petersburg, FL
• McDonalds – St. Petersburg, FL
• Wawa – Orlando, FL
• Wendy’s – Lakeland, FL
• Wendy’s – Lakeland, FL

Sembler broke ground on the following projects:
• Wawa – Trinity, FL
• Chick Fil A (and retail building) – Oviedo, FL
• O’Reilly’s – Lauderhill, FL

“We continue to have an active pipeline in Build-To-Suit with four projects breaking ground in 2018,” says Sembler Vice President of Development JP Guzzardo.

Puerto Rico
Sembler owns five properties on the island, including four with Forge Capital Partners, totaling over 575,000 square feet.” “Once we took care of our people and made sure they had everything they needed for themselves and their families, we began the process of repairing and reopening our centers,” Wheeler reports. “Our tenants have shown amazing resiliency in getting back to business and with most power and water services restored, the majority of our tenants are open and operating while we repair the damage.”

Company Philanthropy
In a record year for participation, 85% of Sembler employees participated in a Sembler sponsored charitable endeavor, including eight employees matched with elementary students in a Pinellas County mentoring program called ‘Lunch Pals’. Sembler continued to partner with local elementary schools, providing grants to help those schools with a high population of at-risk students. A key participant in these endeavors, Sembler’s Vice President of Development JP Guzzardo was recognized as a finalist for Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Up and Comers Awards.

About Sembler’s enduring philanthropic spirit, CEO Wheeler said, “No other single accomplishment makes me prouder than our charitable participation and the fact that our people are so generous to others.”

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