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Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust acquires JANAF shopping center for $85.6 million

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JANAF shopping center courtesy Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust.

Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust Inc., a company with a primary focus on grocery-anchored centers, said Monday that WHLR-JANAF LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the firm, has purchased JANAF Shopping Yard shopping center in Norfolk for $85.6 million.

At 887,917-square-feet, JANAF is the largest open-air shopping center in the region. According to CBRE broker Ryan Sciullo who, along with Bill Kent handled the sale, the transaction represents the largest non-mall retail sale in Hampton Roads in the past five years.

When it opened in 1959, JANAF Shopping Yard was one of the first large suburban shopping centers in the U.S. The property’s original investment group was composed of retired and active-duty military personnel who named the center JANAF, an acronym for Joint Army Navy Air Force.

“JANAF Shopping Yard is a key shopping district serving Southside Hampton Roads, and this growing area is attracting robust investment,” Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander said in a statement.  “The city’s vision for this area is building on various assets and will play an important role in defining our future. We appreciate that Wheeler is increasing its corporate portfolio to include one of Norfolk’s commercial destinations. And, we are proud to have local ownership of this valuable asset.”

Jon S. Wheeler, chairman and CEO of Virginia Beach-based Wheeler, describes JANAF as “an iconic property located nine miles from our corporate headquarters. This asset aligns perfectly with our business strategy of owning the dominant center in secondary and tertiary markets. We expect JANAF to be a long-term play for WHLR as we believe there is tremendous value in the underlying real estate,” Wheeler said in a statement.

JANAF is located at the intersection of Military Highway and Virginia Beach Blvd., one of the area’s most traveled intersections. It is easily accessible to Interstates 64 and 264.

Chuck Rigney, Norfolk’s director of economic development, noted that the area surrounding JANAF is experiencing an economic boom with the recent opening of the Norfolk Premium Outlets and with IKEA’s planned second store in Virginia.

Since its opening, JANAF Shopping Yard has undergone numerous transformations with the last major renovation in 2006. As of Sept.  30, 2017, it was 94% occupied, according to Wheeler Real Estate. Tenants include BJ’s Wholesale Club and Fuel Center, 151,345 square feet; Big Lots, 42,500 square feet; T.J. Maxx, 37,383 square feet; and Petco, 17,000 square feet.

JANAF also is home to a number of restaurants including Hooters, Logan’s Roadhouse, Olive Garden, Cici’s, Panera Bread, Popeyes, Applebee’s and Firehouse Subs. Additionally, there is a six-stall Tesla supercharging station.

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