Primaris Real Estate Investment Trust is buying the Halifax Shopping Centre and the Annex in Halifax, Nova Scotia for $370 million.
“Halifax Shopping Centre and the Annex exemplify the quality and market leading nature of Primaris REIT’s target acquisition profile. The shopping complex is extremely well located in central Halifax, adjacent to Halifax Transit’s Mumford Terminal and at the gateway to the Halifax peninsula, with a market leading position in one of Canada’s fastest growing mid-sized population centres,” said Patrick Sullivan, President and Chief Operating Officer, in a statement.
“With very strong sales performance trending above $1,000 per square foot, this acquisition enhances the REIT’s portfolio value proposition with retailers, and offers a significant income growth opportunity consistent with the growth we see ahead for our existing assets.”
The Halifax Shopping Centre is Atlantic Canada’s leading regional enclosed shopping centre. Located at the gateway to the Halifax peninsula in central Halifax within the newly redesigned main mass transit node, the 562,000-square-foot mall is located on 20.9 acres of land.
Some highlights of the property include:
- $1,012 per square foot same store sales productivity and annual all store sales volume of $260.8 million as at September 30, 2023;
- 69.0 per cent in-place occupancy, and 96.2 per cent committed occupancy including executed leases commencing over the next few months as part of the Sears redevelopment including Simons, Winners, Dollarama and PetSmart;
- $54.0 million Sears redevelopment substantially completed in 2023, and $70.0 million expansion, food court relocation and design upgrades throughout the centre completed in 2017;
- BOMA BEST Certified;
- Other large format tenants include Sport Chek and Zara;
- Unique commercial retail unit (CRU) tenants to the region include Apple, Aritzia, Michael Kors, Victoria’s Secret, Browns, and Nespresso, and other notable CRU tenants include Sephora and Lululemon; and
- No traditional department store.
The Annex property highlights include:
- Open air centre located immediately adjacent to Halifax Shopping Centre;
- Halifax Transit Mumford Bus Terminal on site, one of the city’s busiest terminals;
- 99.7 per cent in-place occupancy, and 93.9 per cent committed occupancy including the impact of Winners moving to Halifax Shopping Centre;
- 412,000 square foot shopping centre located on 26.7 acres of land, for an approximate 47.0 per cent site coverage;
- Site designated as a future growth node by the city, enabling phase I master planning application for approximately 1,800 residential units with mixed-use component, and future phases of approximately 5,500 residential units;
- Large format tenants include Walmart, Sobeys, and Dollarama, with other notable inline and pad tenants including the NSLC, Mark’s Work Wearhouse, Shoppers Drug Mart, and the Bank of Montreal; and
- Adjoining 187,000 square foot Mumford Road Office Complex with 95.4 per cent in-place occupancy and 96.2 per cent committed occupancy.
The Halifax property has been managed by Cushman and Wakefield Asset Services.
Earlier this year, Primaris bought the Conestoga Mall in Waterloo from Ivanhoé Cambridge for $270 million.
“We are very pleased to add Atlantic Canada’s premiere shopping centre complex to the Primaris portfolio,” said Alex Avery, Chief Executive Officer, in a statement. “This acquisition further demonstrates Primaris as an attractive buyer for Canadian pension fund vendors of market leading Canadian shopping centres, with multiple discussions continuing for further acquisitions.
“Primaris is uniquely positioned as a buyer, with institutional scale as the second largest owner-operator of enclosed shopping centres in Canada with proforma assets of approximately $3.9 billion, a differentiated financial model featuring a very well capitalized balance sheet, and a clear mandate for growth.”
Primaris said similar to the Trust’s existing owned portfolio, Halifax Shopping Centre and the Annex offer significant net operating income growth potential over the next few years, as operating and financial performance normalizes, and as Primaris’ full-service management platform integrates and operates the properties.
It said opportunities to increase operating income include:
- Lease up of approximately 20,000 square feet of vacant or temporary tenanted space to strong tenants at market rents;
- The conversion of tenants on preferred rent deals to standard market leases, as well as resolution of leases subject to co-tenancy rental rates; and
- Primaris intends to leverage its scalable management platform to deploy its cost management strategy.
Primaris is Canada’s only enclosed shopping centre focused REIT, with ownership interests primarily in the leading enclosed shopping centres in growing markets. The proforma portfolio totals 37 properties, or 12.5 million square feet, valued at approximately $3.9 billion at Primaris’ share.
Primaris said Halifax is experiencing significant population growth, and has been in the top-five fastest-growing Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA) in Canada for the past four consecutive years, according to Statistics Canada.
In July 2023, the city recorded one-year population growth of 4.5 per cent, the highest ever recorded for the city, and remains the second fastest growing CMA in Canada. The region is expected to grow by 18.4 per cent by 2033, supported by attractive relative cost of living, growth in employment opportunities and significant infrastructure investments, far outpacing the national average of 13.6 per cent, according to Environics Analytics.