ACH - Shopping Center Business Article


Making Secondary Stars Shine Albanese Cormier mines for potential in secondary markets and applies a proven formula of aggressive tenanting and physical upgrades to achieve success.

Lynn Peisner

Albanese Cormier’s Renaissance Square in Fort Worth, Texas, is a 105,605-square-foot center with Hibbett Sports, Marshall’s, Ross Dress for Less and Dollar Tree.

B eaumont, Texas-based Albanese Cormier Holdings (ACH) is in growth mode, fueled by a tried and true model of acquiring shopping centers with national tenants in secondary and tertiary markets. President Michael Albanese cut his teeth on this asset type. He bought his first center, Mid County Shopping Center in Nederland, Texas, while he was one of the tenants. That was back in 2001. The seller, Weingarten Realty, set the tone for how ACH would run its business. “We created a philosophy early on that we would own, we would manage, and we would lease,” says Albanese. “We’ve always kept everything in-house. On those first shopping centers, my brother Eldon

was the property manager, I was the leas- ing manager. Because our only experience was with a large REIT, we modeled this small company after a REIT and tried to grow the business in that fashion.” Today, with a staff of approximately 20 employees, ACH owns 80 properties in 22 states. ACH isn’t afraid of the risk that typically surrounds non-core shopping centers with some deferred maintenance and a few vacancies. Last year alone was proof of that. ACH completed approxi- mately $80million in acquisitions in about 900,000 square feet of space through multiple centers. “For a little, boutique firm, that keeps us pretty busy,” Albanese says. The goal is to acquire between $70 million to $100 million each year, while

disposing at a much slower rate. ACHsees opportunity inproperty types that don’t always splash up the news pag- es of the retail real estate industry’s larger players. But ACH leverages scale and ex- perience to make this opportunity work. The company does go into smaller mar- kets for regional or neighborhood cen- ters with vacancies. But they are looking carefully at locations and ensuring there is enough real estate for future growth. ACH follows certain tenants that are in- dispensable in most people’s daily lives. Through capital improvements and ag- gressive leasing, ACH has found success sticking with a certain stripe of tenants that remain internet-resistant. You’ll most often see a fitness tenant,


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