Retail Downturn? Not at Block: Investors Spend $22M on Three Shopping Centers

By Ian Ritter

There’s been a lot of talk about a retail real estate downturn and the end of shopping in physical stores as we know it. Apparently, David Block and a group of local investors didn’t get the news.

His firm, Block & Co., started off the year by brokering the purchase for a local private investor group of three shopping centers around the metro area–in Lee’s Summit, Lenexa and Liberty–for $22 million. 

Two of the centers 100 percent leased, the firm says, and all “have long term upside,” according to a company statement. Block, president of the brokerage firm, told Ingram’s that he is not worried about the “Amazon effect” of people not shopping in person at stores any more and is highly interested in purchasing well-located assets for interested investors. Apparently, there are quite a few potential sellers in today’s environment.

“They’re concerned about what they read in the media,” Block said, insisting that it’s a good time to buy. “We’re actively out there looking.”

The properties are: Liberty Commons, at I-35 and 152 Highway; Valle Vista at 291 Highway and Chipman Road, in Lee’s Summit; and Greystone South Plaza, at 87th Street and Rosehill, in Lenexa. Block represented the Liberty Commons deal with Alex Block and Valle Vista with Max DiCarlo. Block’s Piers Pener headed the Lenexa transaction.

Though plenty of big-box stores, such as Sears, are feeling pain, plenty of necessity retailers, restaurants and entertainment venues, all of which can’t be recreated online, are doing just fine in shopping centers.

Lane4 Property Group’s 2019 Kansas City Retail Report had 2018’s shopping-center occupancy rate in the metro area at 92.7 percent, down only 20 basis points from 2017. Meanwhile, lease rates rose from 2017 to last year, hitting $13.57 per square foot from $12.66.

So don’t expect your neighborhood grocery store to close up shop any time soon.