Rating our First Ten Years a 10+
The celebration of our first ten years together as The Retail Connection has given us the opportunity to reflect on the enterprise that we have evolved into and all that we have ahead. We are extremely proud of our team and business platforms, and appreciative of all our invaluable clients and partners that have connected together to make our first decade a 10+.
How we’ve grown.
Today, TRC has 90+ employees, represents 250+ retail and restaurant clients and 25+ million square feet of retail projects. Our Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin teams not only lead our clients throughout Texas and Southwest retail markets, but from Mexico City to New York City, and coast to coast; structuring a billion+ dollars in transactions annually.
Our investment services platform, Connected Investments Services [CIS], extends the reach of our clients’ expansion programs by virtue of the enhanced scope of solutions we deliver to meet their needs, which has made us one of the most prolific retail developers and investors in the Southwest. Focused exclusively on tenant-driven collaborations, TRC | CIS led joint ventures have acquired, redeveloped and developed over four million square feet of shopping centers to date, including most recently, the 700,000+ square foot Village at Cumberland Park, the first major retail development in Texas since the recession.
We currently have 3+ million square feet of projects in the development and acquisition pipeline and another 3+ million square feet under property management. We have recently expanded our development division with new leadership in San Antonio and South Texas, and also added senior leadership within our National Advisory Services platform. On the operating side of the ledger, our Connected Capital group has seen three of our first eight [now ten] portfolio companies successfully go public.
We are as excited as ever for all ahead and believe that the next several years will continue to be very strong ones for our industry. Interest rates, while rising slowly, will remain low. Housing has rebounded strongly with housing starts up 30% this year. Existing inventory is tight, triggering new residential development, which creates a positive domino effect for retail. Unemployment continues to improve and overall, consumers feel good about keeping their jobs and about the economy. In fact, consumer confidence, at 82.3%, is at its highest level since 2008.
We’re excited about Texas.
Another great plus is being based in Texas, the fastest growing economy in the nation, growing at 60% faster than the U.S. and creating more jobs than any other state in the country. Texas is the 14th largest economy in the world and our GDP is expected to grow 5% in 2014 versus the U.S. at 3.2%. Our 5.7% unemployment rate [vs. the country’s 6.7%] has been at or lower than the national rate for 7+ years and since 1995, Texas has experienced a 31.5% increase in jobs — and will produce over 300,000 new jobs in 2014, a 2.75% increase over 2013.
The performances of our retail markets have followed suit, with solid sales comps and shopping center occupancies rising above equilibrium– DFW at 90%, Austin at 95%, Houston at 90.5% and San Antonio at 91.4%. New retailers coming into the state include: F21 Red, Gordman’s, Hollywood Feed, Mattress One, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Shake Shack, True Food Kitchen, Yard House and while others are continuing to expand such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Dollar Tree, Fitness Connection and Nordstrom Rack.
What are the plusses ahead? New stores for our clients as their businesses evolve and they continue to adapt responsively to the marketplace, including omni-channel strategies and related dynamics. With retailers looking to grow and occupancy in existing centers above equilibrium, we are seeing several existing retail properties redeveloped and new developments created to meet these growth objectives. Our Connected Development team alone has 3+ million square feet of retail development in our pipeline, including our 700,000+ sq. ft. center in Tyler, Texas, two centers totaling 675,000 sf in Benton, Arkansas, 450,000 square feet in Killeen, Texas, 200,000 square feet in Terrell, and 150,000 square feet in Houston, Texas.
Our focus on retail and commitment to our clients remain the cornerstones of everything we do. Like our clients, we will continue to adapt responsively to market dynamics, however, that focus and commitment will never change. Our team + our client partners are the best in the industry, and we are very grateful for each and every one of you. Our first ten years were a 10+ and we look forward to all our positive experiences and the next 10+ ahead.