SEAL BEACH, CA-Heslin Holdings Inc. of Newport Beach and Retail Holdings LLC of San Diego have merged to form a new firm called Heslin Becker Properties LLC that will focus on developing and investing in retail properties in the Western US, following two years in which the two firms operating as separate entities partnered on transactions totaling more than $100 million. Principal Matt Heslin of the new firm tells that the new company, with its headquarters in Seal Beach, will combine the acquisition expertise of Heslin Holdings with the development capabilities of Becker Properties principal Brad Becker.

Heslin tells that the new company will be buying and building in Southern California, Phoenix, Las Vegas and in the Pacific Northwest markets of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The company has established a Pacific Northwest office in Boise that is headed by a new director of acquisitions, Andrea Nilson, who formerly was a surplus real estate manager for Albertsons.

Heslin Becker Properties will focus on neighborhood and community centers in the range of $5 million to $25 million, with “probably 50% of our acquisitions going forward slated to be ground-up construction and the other 50% value-added acquisitions,” Heslin says. He points out that Becker’s expertise embraces “all of the disciplines that go along with construction project financing and development, leasing and the like,” while Hesline himself will concentrate primarily on due diligence, acquisitions and lease-up.

In addition to its Seal Beach headquarters and its Boise office, the new firm maintains a regional office in San Diego. Heslin says that the company chose Boise for its Pacific Northwest regional office because “we have a lot of opportunities that have been presented to us over the years, both in Boise and around the Pacific Northwest market, and geographically Boise is perfectly positioned to reach those markets.” According to Becker, with the new regional offices the newly merged firm is better poised to expand its acquisition and development activities to all of the western states.

Heslin tells that like its predecessor firms, Heslin Becker Properties buys and builds for the long term. “We try not to sell any of our properties,” he says. The company typically does not buy stabilized properties for cash flow but prefers instead to either develop from scratch or to acquire centers with significant potential for adding value.

Heslin Becker has thus far financed its projects with its own money. Heslin says that the company has been approached by groups representing institutional capital as potential investors, but the plan for the foreseeable future is for the firm to continue using its own funds.

Heslin says that the principals of the new firm are optimistic that they can find viable deals despite the current uncertainty in the capital markets, although the changing capital markets conditions require that investors and developers be even more careful than before. “I’m not necessarily concerned that the capital markets pose an imminent threat to the business or that they will curb our acquisition requirements and appetite, but what the capital markets will do is make us think much more carefully about the projects we are going to undertake and the returns we are willing to live with,” the Heslin principal explains.

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