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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real EstateFlorida.)

ATLANTA-Bill Coats has joined Houston-based Weingarten Realty Investors as regional director of new development for the Southeast region. He previously served as VP of development for Jacksonville, FL-based Regency Centers Corp. at its Atlanta office.

In his new role, Coats will oversee Weingarten’s new retail development projects in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and the Florida Panhandle. He says he will focus primarily on grocery-anchored shopping centers, which tend to be more resistant to economic downturns.

“It’s certainly a challenging market, but companies such as Weingarten have a strong balance sheet and have been around for a long time,” Coats tells GlobeSt.com, noting that the company’s own roots stem from the grocery business. “They stick with what they know best.”

While with Regency Centers, also a key player in the grocery-anchor arena, Coats was responsible for finding development opportunities for neighborhood and community shopping centers in a five-state territory. The Georgia Institute of Technology graduate has been involved in retail development for more than 20 years.

“Bill’s experience and strong working relationships will play a major role in the expansion for the Southeast region,” says Robert Smith, Weingarten SVP and director of new development. “Bill has a strong background in real estate development and is an excellent addition to our team.”

Joining Weingarten not only allows Coats to stay with familiar territory, it lets him revisit South Carolina, where he worked early in his career. “It’s grown quite a bit since then,” he says.

Now observing its 60th anniversary, Weingarten is involved in developing, acquiring and managing properties in 23 states. Its portfolio includes 335 neighborhood and community shopping centers, plus 80 industrial properties.

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