REITs Aiding Recovery, Assessing Damage in Puerto Rico

9/29/2017 | By Sarah Borchersen-Keto

REITs Aiding Recovery, Assessing Damage in Puerto Rico

More than one week after Hurricane Maria swept across the island, Puerto Rico remains without electricity. Meanwhile, roads are impassable due to extensive flooding, and essential supplies are running low.

For REITs that operate in the storm-devastated territory, the process of contacting employees, providing assistance and assessing damage is only just starting.

Shopping center REIT DDR Corp. (NYSE: DDR) has 12 properties in Puerto Rico. DDR CEO David Lukes said the company continues to work to provide basic supplies to its local team and their families. DDR has also made steady progress assessing damage and is preparing repair plans.

“We expect full recovery to span a significant period of time given damage to Puerto Rico’s critical infrastructure and the current difficulty procuring building materials and making necessary repairs,” Lukes said.

Plaza Palma Real, DDR’s property on the southeastern portion of the island, sustained major damage, the company said.  While the company’s remaining 11 assets sustained less significant damage, DDR noted that it remains unclear when re-openings could occur.

American Tower Corp. (NYSE: AMT) reported that of the sites it has been able to gain access to and inspect, it appears that the structural integrity of the towers has held. However, a substantial amount of the carrier customer equipment on the towers and at the sites is badly damaged. This damage to carrier equipment and the loss of electrical power has resulted in very few cell sites being operational, the company said.

American Tower has resources on the ground now who are helping with recovery efforts, performing full site audits on its 118 towers and identifying priority projects. The company is working with the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security on a coordinated response.

Retail REIT Kimco Realty Corp. (NYSE: KIM) is busy ensuring its employees are safe and providing them with necessary assistance, according to Jennifer Maisch, director of corporate communications. As for damage assessment, infrastructure challenges are preventing a complete review of its seven shopping centers at this time, she said.

Maisch said Kimco is encouraging employees throughout the company to donate to the Red Cross through the International Council of Shopping Center’s (ICSC) portal. Kimco is matching employee donations up to a total of $50,000. The ICSC Foundation, the charitable arm of ICSC, said it will match the first $500,000 contributed by ICSC members to the American Red Cross’ hurricane relief efforts.

Mall REIT Taubman Centers, Inc. (NYSE: TCO) had a seven-person security team on site at its only property in Puerto Rico, The Mall of San Juan, during the hurricane. That lessened the impact to certain areas of the center, the company said.

Taubman said it continues to work with tenants to fully understand the extent of the damage.

“With nearly all of the island’s power out and Puerto Rico’s residents highly disrupted, it is very hard to tell when we will have the full resources and manpower needed to complete the task,” said Ryan Hurren, director of investor relations at Taubman.

Meanwhile, tower REIT Crown Castle International Corp. (NYSE: CCI) has 262 cell towers located in Puerto Rico and is still in the process of conducting inspections.

“So far, we have found that our towers maintained their structural integrity and continue to provide the infrastructure required to host our wireless carrier customers,” Crown Castle said.

Crown Castle noted that it is clearing debris so that wireless carriers can gain access to their equipment to make repairs as needed and restore network service for customers.  The company is also working to bring in additional resources, equipment, water and fuel to help support the needs of the community.

Business storage REIT Iron Mountain Inc. (NYSE: IRM) said its facilities will be closed and all service in Puerto Rico will be suspended until further notice.

“Widespread destruction caused by Hurricane Maria is hampering our efforts to quickly assess our facilities as there are limited options for communicating with our employees and recovery partners,” Iron Mountain said. The REIT said it is preparing to secure its facilities and begin remediation as soon as possible.