M&J WILKOW ACQUIRES INTEREST IN 1.4 M SF PITTSBURGH SHOPPING CENTER
PITTSBURGH, PA - M&J Wilkow, Ltd. and BIG Shopping Centers USA (BIG USA) entered into a joint venture agreement to purchase a significant retail portion of The Waterfront, a 1.4 million-square foot, open-air shopping center in suburban Pittsburgh. In a deal that closed October 1, the joint venture purchased 765,000 square feet at the region's second largest shopping center situated on 265 acres along the Monongahela River, the former site of US Steel's Homestead Steel Works, once the largest steel mill in the world.
"The Waterfront is a great opportunity for both BIG USA and M&J Wilkow to not only enter the Pittsburgh market, but also to add value to the area's vibrant economy - and grow the size of our respective retail portfolios," explains Stanley L. McElroy, Jr., president, BIG Shopping Centers USA. "Although this is our first partnership, the synergies between our companies made this venture an obvious choice. We both seek to invest in properties with solid real estate fundamentals that drive return-on-investment levels to support a long-term hold strategy. The Waterfront meets all the above."
Located seven miles from downtown Pittsburgh and across the Homestead Greys Bridge from Squirrel Hill, Shadyside and Oakland, The Waterfront stretches across Homestead, West Homestead and Munhall boroughs. The retail acquisition includes the power center and lifestyle portions of one of the nation's largest mixed-use, redevelopment initiatives.
"The Waterfront was once a national showcase of Pittsburgh's post-steel industry economic revival," states Martin J. Sweeney, vice president - acquisitions, M&J Wilkow, Ltd. "We plan to re-capture that spirit and bring this wonderful retail destination to a much higher level. Over 80% of the tenants are original to the 2001 grand opening, and last year AMC Loews Theatres attracted over a million customers. We cannot wait to spread the word about the many positive happenings at The Waterfront - and begin making our planned improvements."
Anchored by Target, Lowe's Home Improvement and Giant Eagle, the power center features TJ Maxx, DSW, Dick's Sporting Goods, Marshalls, Bed Bath & Beyond, Office Depot, PETCO, Old Navy and Best Buy. The lifestyle component integrates soft goods with entertainment and dining amenities featuring an upscale AMC Loews Theatres, Barnes & Noble, ULTA, The Gap, PF Changs, BRAVO! Cucina Italiana, Dave & Buster's, Rock Bottom Brewery and Panera Bread.
Located in a densely populated, infill location, The Waterfront's trade area includes approximately 350,000 people in a five-mile radius and is insulated from significant competition. Recognized in 2011 as the nation's "Most Livable City" by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Pittsburgh is also a national model for job creation and economic growth. With an unemployment rate of 6.7% (national average 8.4%), the City continues to benefit from positive growth in industries such as health care, banking, education, robotics and research, and energy.
"The Waterfront is an ideal example of a performing, value-add retail opportunity in a secondary market that aligns with our conservative approach to long-term ownership," continues McElroy. The acquisition of the Pittsburgh retail center marks BIG USA's largest single retail acquisition and increases its portfolio to approximately 5.25 million square feet with 25 retail centers owned throughout the United States. "We look forward to not only our relationship with M&J Wilkow, but also to working with the three boroughs to ensure the shopping center is a best-in-class product," concludes McElroy.
In addition to approximately 70 shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, The Waterfront also includes 300 Class A residential units, over 600,000 square feet of Class A office and research and development space and three hotels creating a "work-live-play" node.
About BIG Shopping Centers USA
Established in 1994, BIG Shopping Centers (TASE: BIG) is an international owner, operator and developer of shopping centers in Israel, United States, India and Serbia. BIG USA, a subsidiary of BIG Shopping Centers headquartered in Beverly Hills, Calif., provides an equity partner for leading US shopping center operators to acquire individual as well as portfolios of quality shopping centers for long-term cash flow. BIG USA primarily focuses on acquiring grocery-anchored, neighborhood and power centers. For more information, visit www.bigcentersusa.com.