HOUSTON, Aug. 11, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Whitestone REIT (NYSE: WSR) (“Whitestone” or the “Company”), a leading owner and operator of open-air community-focused lifestyle properties primarily in the Sun Belt states, highlighted several positive trends in the high growth markets where Whitestone has prioritized its investments. Over the past several years, metropolitan areas in Arizona and Texas have experienced some of the highest economic activity and population growth in the United States. Whitestone’s properties continue to attract outstanding tenants that offer essential services and goods needed by local communities in these areas, driving strong growth and value for shareholders. The Company’s long-term strategy of acquiring and developing premier properties in these rapidly expanding regions continues to deliver value for all stakeholders, including the many communities in which Whitestone operates.
Whitestone Capitalizing from Positive Trends
Migration tailwinds have driven increased quarter-over-quarter foot traffic — a 17.9% increase in foot traffic at its centers from 4Q2020 to 2Q2021 — for Whitestone’s tenants and new leases across Whitestone’s properties. This is best evidenced by the Company’s first and second quarter 2021 leasing activity, occupancy levels, leasing spreads and average base rent on leased square foot. Whitestone’s new tenant square foot leasing activity for the first six months of 2021 has been 100% higher than the first six months of 2020 and 40% higher than the first six months of 2019.
“Since the IPO of Whitestone in 2010, we have had conviction in the Sun Belt markets, and most specifically Arizona and Texas,” said Jim Mastandrea, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Whitestone REIT. “Guided by our local expertise and consumer-driven data, our portfolio and investment strategy ensure we own properties in high-growth markets where people increasingly want to live. As a result of the pandemic, these years-long migration trends have accelerated and the prescient work of our team in thoughtfully positioning each of our properties has delivered outsized value for all of our stakeholders.”
Positive Macro Trends in Arizona and Texas
Over the past decade, Arizona’s population has increased by approximately 700,000 people while Texas’ population grew by nearly four million people, representing growth of 11.9% and 15.9%, respectively. As Whitestone correctly anticipated, the highest population growth has occurred in the urban Sun Belt cities. Indeed, almost half of all population growth in the nation between 2010 and 2016 happened in the 22 metro areas in the Sun Belt.1 As depicted on the following map, both Arizona and Texas, where Whitestone’s properties are strategically located, were among the top states for inbound migration in 2020.
A map image accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/9d34fe1b-5c7c-4f58-88dc-e9a43d35f083
Whitestone was built by acquiring strategically targeted properties located in high-income communities within fast-growing and highly populated cities in business-friendly states. Its internet-resistant business model is focused on entrepreneurial tenants providing the services and essential needs of the local community’s consumers. The Company has historically grown its portfolio through single, off-market, value-add acquisitions in four specific markets: Phoenix/Scottsdale, Austin/San Antonio, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Houston, all of which have seen tremendous population growth — a trend that is predicted to continue as more companies relocate.
Economists say Texas may be the best state in the union in which to start a business, with economic growth that is outpacing the national average, according to Business News Daily. More than 45 percent of Texas' private sector work force is employed by small businesses, which amounts to 4.7 million employees. The other cities of the urban Sun Belt have also proved to be attractive geographies for business relocations. Not only are droves of people relocating to Arizona and Texas, those who are doing so tend to be relatively wealthy, with high levels of disposable income.
Mr. Mastandrea continued, “Our strategically chosen markets are resilient, our tenants serve their local neighbors’ essential lifestyle needs, and our business model generates consistent and attractive cash flow and returns. Change creates opportunity. In retail and real estate, we are excited by the many opportunities created by both population and corporate migrations and the increased demand for consumer-oriented centers and services, which Whitestone provides.”
1 Large, young and fast-growing Sun Belt metros need urban policy innovation (Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research, June 11, 2020)
About Whitestone REIT
Whitestone is a community-centered shopping center REIT that acquires, owns, manages, develops, and redevelops high-quality neighborhood centers primarily in the largest, fastest-growing and most affluent markets in the Sun Belt.
Whitestone seeks to Create Communities in Our Properties™ by Creating Local Connections between consumers in the surrounding communities and a well-crafted mix of local, regional and national tenants that provide daily necessities, needed services, entertainment, and experiences.
Whitestone (NYSE: WSR) pays monthly dividends to its shareholders and it has consistently done so for more than 15 years. Whitestone’s strong balanced and managed capital structure provides stability and flexibility for growth and positions Whitestone to perform well through economic cycles. For additional information, please visit www.whitestonereit.com.
Safe Harbor Statement
This press release includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). The Company intends for all such forward-looking statements to be covered by the safe-harbor provisions for forward-looking statements contained in Section 27A of the Securities Act and Section 21E of the Exchange Act, as applicable. Forward-looking statements generally can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "may," "should," "could," "would," "predicts," "potential," "continue," "expects," "anticipates," "future," "intends," "plans," "believes," "estimates" or similar expressions or their negatives, as well as statements in future tense. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, beliefs and expectations, such forward-looking statements are not predictions of future events or guarantees of future performance and our actual results could differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. For a description of certain of such factors, see the section entitled "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, and the Company's other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Any forward-looking information presented herein is made only as of the date of this press release, and the Company does not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information to reflect changes in assumptions, the occurrence of unanticipated events, or otherwise.
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A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/15292938-de3c-4a89-abf4-5e753a781e7a
Interstate and Cross-Border 2020 Migration Patters-traffice flow by state/province Photo credit - TM & Copyright 2020 AWGI LLC Atlas Van Lines, Inc.Village Square at Dana Park, a Whitestone REIT property Village Square at Dana Park, located in Mesa, AZ, is one of Whitestone REIT's 59 dynamic community-focused lifestyle properties strategically positioned to serve its neighboring communities with daily essential goods and services 18 hours per day, 7 days per week.