Shopping center owner Edens said Thursday that it had received a $1.5 billion investment that would allow the company to expand its portfolio — about a quarter of which is in the Washington area — from $4 billion to $7 billion.
In the deal, private equity giant Blackstone Group is spending $718 million for a 29 percent stake in Edens and is partnering with two other investors to provide the developer with another $750 million to fund acquisitions.
Edens owns 111 shopping centers and development projects on the East Coast, about a quarter of which are in the Washington area. The 26 local properties in which Edens has a stake include shopping centers like Arlington Ridge in Arlington, Chain Bridge Corner in McLean and Montgomery Village Crossing in Gaithersburg.
“It means a platform that allows us to continue to grow from our current size of $4 billion to close to $7 billion. It means we will continues to be very focused on East Coast markets,” said Jodie W. McLean, Edens president and chief investment officer, in an interview.
Although Edens has a specialty in retail, the company’s mixed-use projects in former industrial or dilapidated corridors provide a model for investments going forward, McLean said.
Some prime examples of that work are in or around the District. Edens was part of the development team behind City Vista, one of the first mixed-use projects in the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood of Northwest D.C., an area that is now teeming with new apartment and restaurant projects.
In Northeast D.C., east of Union Station, Edens turned part of a rundown wholesale district into the foodie destination Union Market. Edens is planning more development nearby, including apartments and an eight-screen Angelika movie theater.
And in Merrifield, on the site of a former movie theater near the intersection of Lee Highway and Gallows Road, Edens developed the mixed-use Mosaic District, featuring 112 town homes, 531 apartments, a 150-room hotel and a shopping district headlined by Target and another Angelika theater.
McLean said that as Edens expands “we will continue to buy assets that are primarily retail — but like at Union Market where we have that chance to do adaptive re-use. That continues to be of high interest to us, but our focus will be on creating retail places that really drive and inspire the consumer.”
Although it is based in Columbia, S.C., the company has a large regional office in Bethesda, where 80 people work and new hires are expected. McLean said she spends three days a week there. “We have may of our senior real estate team in the D.C. area,” she said.
McLean said Edens plans to make further investments around both the Mosaic District and Union Market. She said she did no expect the slice of the company’s portfolio that is in Washington to change dramatically. “You can assume that as we go we feel very comfortable with that allocation as a percentage,” she said.
“This is a very strategic market for us,” she added. “Especially in D.C. proper, where you see a very educated consumer and a low square feet per capita.”
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