Weingarten Realty CEO Says Improved Portfolio Metrics Will Help REIT Navigate Crisis

Drew Alexander, chairman, president, and CEO of Weingarten Realty (NYSE: WRI), participated in a video interview in conjunction with Nareit’s REITweek: Virtual Investor Conference (being held June 2-4).

Alexander outlined actions the REIT has taken in the past decade that have given it a strong position to navigate the current crisis. He noted that from 2010 to 2019 Weingarten sold $3.4 billion of properties and developed about $1.6 billion, and “basically improved every metric in the portfolio.”

Looking ahead, Alexander said the REIT will consider all avenues for growth.

“I don’t think there will be incredible development opportunities, but we have a very robust redevelopment pipeline,” Alexander said. He noted that Weingarten had previously identified $2 billion of densification that the REIT will now “free up to do a little bit faster as conditions warrant.”

Weingarten will also continue to look at acquisitions “where it makes sense,” Alexander said. He noted that the REIT is “very happy” with its geographic footprint in the Southern and Western U.S.

Meanwhile, Alexander said the longer-term evolution of the retail sector has “certainly been accelerated by this COVID-19 crisis.” In the future, he expects shoppers will face a menu of retail options including delivery and buy online, pickup in-store, which highlights the strength of the omnichannel model.