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Regency Centers Takes Whole Foods Market to Mellody Farm

Regency Centers Corporation REG disclosed Whole Foods Market WFM as an anchor tenant to its proposed project, Mellody Farm, a ground-up development just outside of Chicago.

The inclusion of this reputed grocery chain is expected to attract other tenants to this project that is positioned at the northeast corner of Route 60 and Route 21 in Vernon Hills, IL.

Importantly, the Mellody Farm development will be a 270,000-square-foot, mixed-use experiential retail center. There are plans to include specialty stores as well as restaurants, both local and national brands.

Moreover, the project would include 260 apartments adjoining the center, to be developed by a partnership of Focus Development, Inc. and Atlantic Realty Partners, which is a regional multi-family development team.

Notably, the Chicago retail market is experiencing an improving leasing market thanks to healthy demand from retailers. In fact, according to recent Chicago Tribune news that cited a report from CBRE Group Inc. CBG, retail vacancy rate fell to 8.9% in first-quarter 2016, marking the lowest level since 2013.

That reflects a decline from around 9.3% in the prior quarter and 9.6% reported in the prior-year comparable period. Rates have also climbed, reaching $18.75 per square foot, from about $17.63 a year ago. So, Regency seems well-poised to leverage on this favorable trend.

Regency’s focus on building a premium portfolio of grocery-anchored shopping centers augurs well. Such centers are usually necessity-driven and attract huge traffic. Also, the presence of a cluster of leading grocers will protect the company from market swings. Yet, stiff competition and an anticipated rise in interest rates pose concerns before the stock.

Regency currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, investors interested in the retail real estate investment trust industry can consider another stock – Retail Opportunity Investments Corp ROIC – that presently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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CBRE GROUP INC (CBG): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
REGENCY CTRS CP (REG): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
RETAIL OPPURTUN (ROIC): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
WHOLE FOODS MKT (WFM): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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