1/14/2016 | By Sarah Borchersen-Keto
Stuart Tanz, president and CEO of Retail Opportunity Investments Corp. (NASDAQ: ROIC), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview at REITWorld 2015: NAREIT’s Annual Convention for All Things REIT at the Wynn Las Vegas.
ROIC booked $310 million in acquisitions of grocery-based shopping centers during the first nine months of 2015. Tanz noted that the pace in 2015 matched that of the last several years. “Going forward, I think we’ll be able to continue that pace at probably around the same pace or a bit more,” he said.
In terms of the outlook for leasing, Tanz stressed that West Coast market fundamentals have improved. In 2015, ROIC leased about 1 million square feet, or double what was set to roll over in its tenant base last year, according to Tanz.
“We’re off to one of our strongest years ever from a leasing perspective,” Tanz said.
In particular, ROIC has been able to achieve increases of about 53 percent for its non-anchored space and 20 percent for both new and renewed leases. “We expect the leasing strength of the West Coast to continue, certainly looking out into the future,” Tanz said.
Meanwhile, Tanz emphasized that there are a number of areas where ROIC can continue to build value for its shareholders. On the operating side, gains are mainly being achieved through re-leasing space and re-merchandising the tenant base, Tanz said.
“We’ve been able to play offense versus defense in terms of taking a lot of the anchor spaces we own and terminating those leases and bringing in stronger tenants that can pay more rent,” Tanz said.
More importantly, according to Tanz, ROIC benefits from having “one of the most unencumbered balance sheets in the retail sector.”