The Forum shopping center has a new owner.
The 105,785-square-foot shopping center has been acquired by CenterSquare, a Pennsylvania-based real estate investment management company, according to a news release Friday. Development of The Forum has been credited with helping spark growth along Wilmington's Military Cutoff Road corridor.
The Forum sits on 13.6 acres at 1125 Military Cutoff Road and is home to a lineup of national, regional and local restaurants and shops. Tenants include Dunkin’, Jimmy John’s, Club Pilates, UPS, Chop’t, Bento Box, True Blue Butcher and Osteria Cicchetti, among others.
The shopping center is located in a “premier retail node” with direct access from U.S. 17 – a corridor that sees an estimated 39,000 cars per day, according to the company's release.
“This investment aligns with our strategy of targeting unanchored, high-quality essential service retail centers in strong demographic submarkets,” the release stated.
The purchase of the Forum, which closed on Sept. 6, marks CenterSquare’s 37th service property acquisition nationwide and 15th acquisition in the Southeastern U.S. The company owns 38 shopping centers across 15 markets.
While the company doesn't own any other Wilmington-area properties, it owns three other "essential service retail" properties in North Carolina, including one in Cary and two in the Charlotte area. A CenterSquare spokesperson told the Business Journal on Friday the company is "unable to disclose the price" of its latest purchase in Wilmington.
The firm's investment strategy aims to target a subset of "e-commerce resistant, institutional quality properties whose customers must visit the store in order to consume the product or service," according to the company spokesperson.
"This unique investment approach has poised the portfolio for continued growth and success during times of market volatility and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; even when the general sentiment toward brick-and-mortar retail properties was unfavorable, occupancy rates remained in the 97% range," the spokesperson wrote in an email to the Business Journal.
In the coming months, CenterSquare plans to enhance The Forum's signage and lighting.
The Forum was developed by H. David Swain, founder of Swain & Associates. The center was developed in phases, starting in 1998. Swain & Associates sold the center
in 2013 for $24.7 million to two pension groups.
Following The Forum came the development of Renaissance Commercial along with Mayfaire – a mammoth 667,353-square-foot, mixed-use development that has accelerated west Wilmington’s commercial growth.