1315_REITworld_John Kite_2021-11-05_v1
12/20/2021 | by Diane Rusignola

John Kite, chairman and CEO of Kite Realty Group Trust (NYSE: KRG), participated in a video interview in conjunction with Nareit’s REITworld: 2021 Annual Conference.

He discussed Kite Realty Group’s $7.5 billion merger with Retail Properties of America, noting he is excited and bullish on what’s ahead.

“The merger itself was immediately accretive, both to earnings and to NAV,” Kite said. “Then we look at our growth opportunities on a combined basis [and] they’re extremely significant. The companies’ combined have about $33 million of signed NOI that hasn’t opened yet.”

He added that the merger points to Kite’s belief in open-air retail centers as essential shopping destinations.

“Pre-pandemic, people tossed around ‘retail apocalypse’ like it just rolled off the lips, and now it’s retail resurgence,” he said. “The reality is it was never an apocalypse, but COVID has definitely identified some new things in our everyday living that our open-air shopping centers feed right into [like the importance of customers living very close to retail options].”

Turning toward adaptations the retail sector might need to make in response to the pandemic, Kite said it won't take much more than improved signage and flexible hours to portray the convenience of retail options.

“Candidly, we haven’t had to do much in the way of capex to make these centers more appealing to the customers for ‘buy online, pick up in store’ and that last-mile destination,” he said.