Wheeler: 75% of our business
will be focused on retail and
75% of that will be focused on
grocery- anchored retail.

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA-A local REIT has launched that will be investing largely in income-producing retail real estate. Called Wheeler REIT, the company debuted on the NASDAQ exchange, trading under the symbol WHLR this week. It issued approximately three million shares that were priced at $5.25 per unit, CEO Jon Wheeler tells GlobeSt.com, securing some $15.8 million in proceeds for the company.

Some 75% of Wheeler REIT’s business will be in retail real estate, Wheeler says, and 75% of that business will be invested in grocery-anchored properties. The company has a strong footprint in the Mid-Atlantic and plans to expand deeper in the southeast and southwest and, eventually, northeast in the coming months and years. “We focus primarily on secondary and tertiary markets,” Wheeler says. “We are more likely to be in Culpepper, VA, rather than Washington, DC, for example.”

Wheeler seeded the REIT with eight of its best properties, five of which were located in Virginia, and the rest in North Carolina, Oklahoma and Florida. “We thought these properties were a good mix to start out with because they represents what we do well.”

The REIT is also targeting for expansion Kentucky, Alabama and Ohio, Wheeler says. The company was formed last June and filed plans for an IPO in October 2011. Its acquisition criteria for acquisitions are properties that are between 50,000 to 300,000 square feet, are regional and national tenant-anchored centers and are stabilized or need some repositioning. Wheeler also notes that his REIT is the first to be based in Virginia Beach, specifically the Hampton Roads submarket.