Lowe Launches Platform to Redevelop Struggling Retail Space

The national real estate firm named retail veteran Joel K. Mayer to lead 'Retail reVision'

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Los Angeles-based developer and investor Lowe announced today that it launched a platform to reposition retail properties with better uses.

The national real estate firm named retail veteran Joel K. Mayer to lead the new program, “Retail reVision,” which will utilize Lowe’s multifamily, office and hotel expertise. 

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“The ongoing retail contraction, accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis, will increase the need to reposition retail assets,” Mayer said in a statement. “Whether it’s a closed department store or big box retailer, or under-occupied shopping center or regional mall, Lowe will evaluate and devise a new plan to introduce new alternative uses.”

Retail sales jumped 17.8 percent in May nationwide, helping rent payments jumped back up 15 percent in June. But both metrics still lag sharply behind levels seen before shelter-in-place orders were enacted to curb the spreading coronavirus.

Michael H. Lowe, co-CEO of Lowe, said his firm has been developing Retail reVision over the past few years. It will aim to modernize or add new uses to existing retail space. The team will work with existing and new owners as a joint venture partner, an incentive-fee manager, or as an advisor.

The firm is targeting properties with regional draw, such as malls and community centers in urban and suburban infill markets throughout California, the Pacific Northwest, the Mid-Atlantic regions, Denver, Phoenix, and North Carolina and South Carolina.

“We see this as an opportune time to deploy our multi-disciplined skills to re-envisioning and redeveloping well-located, but underutilized and under-performing retail real estate,” Lowe said in a prepared statement. 

The firm is currently engaged with Centennial Real Estate, the owners of the MainPlace Mall in Santa Ana, Calif., with planning and permitting the property for multifamily, office and possibly a hotel. Construction of the first phase of multifamily housing is expected to begin in early 2021.

Prior to joining Lowe, Mayer served as managing director for retail at Rockwood where he oversaw retail property investment, development, acquisitions, leasing, management and dispositions. Earlier, he was a director at BlackRock, and also responsible for real estate expansion at California Pizza Kitchen.

Lowe is one of the firms behind the 500,000-square-foot Ivy Station development in Culver City on L.A.’s Westside, which is currently under construction. That mixed-use project includes 200 apartments, a 240,000-square-foot office building, a 148-room boutique hotel, and 50,000 square feet of retail space.

Formerly known as Lowe Enterprises, the 48-year-old firm has completed, acquired or managed more than $32 billion in real estate throughout the nation, and currently has more than $2 billion in projects in the pipeline or under development.