Willard Retail Rises from the Ashes of JBGR
CHEVY CHASE – Regular readers of WBJ’s real estate coverage might have done a double take Friday when they read about the new College Park development being a partnership between, in part, Bozzuto Group and Willard Retail.
What is Willard Retail? That’s what I was asking, anyway.
That would be several former principals of JBG Rosenfeld Retail, the management and leasing arm acquired by The JBG Cos. proper in January.
The piece that was left, the acquisition, development and investment business, was transformed into Willard Retail, with former JBGR principals Grant Ehat, Michael Majestic and Jim Garibaldi at its helm. Associate Thomas Underhill also works for Willard.
Willard is still intertwined with JBG, despite the name change. JBG will still have right of first refusal on any projects that Willard gets involved in, and Willard would still partner with JBG on the retail acquisition piece of retail-heavy developments, Ehat said in an interview.
Willard Retail also continues to manage the 20 former JBGR properties owned by Rob Rosenfeld — the “R” in JBGR — and Rosenfeld sits on Willard’s board.
The split, however, allows the former JBGR group to do deals with other entities, such as the Bozzuto project in College Park, which is expected to have 100,000 square feet of retail — anchored by, the developers hope, a grocery store — below 300 luxury apartments.
That grocery element could be key to Willard’s participation in the project, since the company has longstanding relationships with many major national tenants through its existing shopping center portfolio.
“One of the things about retail development and acquisitions, is mainly what you’re buying are the income streams,” Ehat said. “And we have a lot of relationships with most of the anchor tenants in the country, so we would be involved with those negotiations, and if they’re not already part of the project, in bringing them in.”
At the upcoming International Council of Shopping Centers’ Recon event in Las Vegas, it may not seem like there is much separation between Willard and JBG, Majestic said — and in part that’s intentional.
“I think the partnership with JBG is important for our success,” Majestic said. “And we’ll leverage that as we look at other opportunities with them, so the market knows the retail team is still there and can provide the same level of expertise and service.”
As for the name, Willard Retail, it isn’t complicated: The principals took the name of the street their offices reside on, Willard Avenue in Chevy Chase.
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