Lisa Palmer, president and CEO of Regency Centers Corp. (Nasdaq: REG), participated in a video interview in conjunction with Nareit’s REITweek: Virtual Investor Conference (being held June 2-4).
Palmer said Regency’s top priority throughout the pandemic has been communicating with and keeping employees safe across 22 offices nationwide. The REIT also has more than 400 U.S. shopping centers, all of which have at least one tenant open and operating, although not all are paying rent. She said that while Regency has maintained 100% of its operating costs, it only received 65% of April rent.
Palmer added that 4,200 of Regency’s 8,000 tenants are small businesses. “It’s not just their life savings, it’s their lives—it's what they do. The burden and the emotional toll it’s taking on them is obviously something that we are trying to help them with and work with them [on],” she said.
Palmer added that one of the first things Regency’s team did was make sure they were able to contact all 8,000 of its tenants, and then created a resources website for them that included information about the CARES Act.
“We’ve implemented pick-up-and-go zones at our shopping centers, and dedicated parking spaces to help our tenants and our shoppers, for ease of ordering online and picking up curbside,” she said.
Palmer said the biggest question going forward is around how long the pandemic will last, but she believes there will be opportunities for Regency once it is over, including potential investments.
Palmer added that more than 60% of Regency’s portfolio falls in the essential retail category, and while some retail trends like ordering online have been accelerated by the pandemic, retailers will still try to incentivize customers to come in the store.
“Owning shopping centers that are grocery-anchored, that have restaurants that are feeding our communities, are still going to be critically important in the future,” she said.