Shopping Center Business

MAY 2015

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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Page 128 of 342

124 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • MAY 2015 maintained, continued to attract the best performing retailers and, more important- ly, shoppers from the largest trade areas. Wolstein and Starwood originally were discussing a number of retail in- vestment opportunities; everything from new retail development in Brazil to the Centro Properties U.S. portfolio that was ultimately purchased by Blackstone and taken public as Brixmor Property Group. In 2011, Starwood Capital Group and Westfield devised a plan whereby Star- wood would acquire a 90 percent share of seven regional malls from Westfield. The $1 billion sale allowed Westfield to re-deploy capital into its core assets while providing Starwood with an investment opportunity into strong retail assets in several markets. Wolstein was asked to evaluate the properties, which led to him consulting during the negotiations for the portfolio. The deal took a year to culmi- nate, and when it was completed in July 2012, Wolstein was brought on to be the company's CEO. Wolstein points to that day as an in- triguing challenge. On the closing date, he was Starwood Retail Partners' only full-time employee, charged with operat- ing seven super-regional malls. "On June 15, 2012, I was virtually running $1 billion worth of malls by my- self," he recalls. "All calls from tenants to Westfield were re-directed to me. I had nail salons calling me on my cell phone wanting to renew their leases and I had tenants asking me when their build-outs were going to be finished." Starwood Retail Partners essentially went from zero to 6.6 million square feet in one day; acquiring a portfolio that was 92 percent leased and had average sales of about $400 per square foot. With one corporate level employee, Starwood Retail originally employed third-party ser- vices from CBL & Associates to manage accounting and administration. While leasing was brought in-house in 2012, Starwood very deliberately spent 2013 building its back-of-house management capabilities; it took over management of its properties on January 1, 2014. Building A TeAm When they set out to build the compa- ny, Sternlicht and Wolstein decided they wanted to build a team of seasoned indi- viduals from the retail real estate business. One of their first hires was Scott Ball, who became Starwood Retail's president and COO. Together, Sternlicht, Wolstein and Ball have built a strong team of experi- enced executives. Taking an interesting tack, many of the company's lead execu- tives have spent years working on the re- tailer side of the business, while others have experience from the nation's top developer-owners. "We utilized our experience and our connections to identify those individuals we wanted as members of our team — some of whom we chased for quite a while — to lead our organization," says Ball, who had most recently led the retail division of Canadian developer Oxford Proper- ties Group, and before that had served as executive vice president with The Mills Corporation. He spent 20 years before that with The Rouse Company. With that goal in mind, Starwood Retail Partners has built a team of executives who have led different facets of many of the top retailers and shopping center owners in the country. Wolstein and Ball sought the best and brightest for Starwood Retail, seeking experienced executives who wanted to be challenged with build- ing a culture as much as a strong collection of properties. Laurie Paquette is Starwood Retail's se- nior vice president of property manage- ment, overseeing operations, marketing and specialty leasing. A 20-year veteran of the industry, she most recently oversaw property management for the Las Vegas and Hawaii assets for General Growth Properties, including such trophy malls as Scott Wolstein, CEO. Laurie Paquette, senior vice president of property management. Scott Ball, president and COO. Starwood's The Mall at Patridge Creek in Clinton Township, Michigan.

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