As we continue to pay tribute to the 70th Anniversary of Weingarten Realty, we resume the Weingarten Story after the sale of J. Weingarten Inc. and how relationships with supermarket chains, independent grocers, drug stores and retailers developed…relationships that are still flourishing today…70 years later.
Weingarten becomes a REIT
Weingarten Realty restructured to a real estate investment trust (REIT) in 1984. On August 6, 1985, the company held its initial public offering and was listed as “WRI” on the New York Stock Exchange. The company quickly became one of the largest equity REITs listed on the NYSE and continues to rank consistently as one of the nation’s largest developers/owners of community shopping centers. Just three years later, the Company became a Texas trust and changed its name to Weingarten Realty Investors (WRI).
During the mid to late 1980’s, Houston, the hometown and largest market of WRI, began to experience an economic downturn due to the falling oil prices. Nevertheless, WRI continued to flourish. Its occupancy rate never fell below 90%.
From its beginning, WRI believed in being a good corporate citizen. Helping less
fortunate in the community was and continues to be an integral part of the Company’s priorities. WREACH, Weingarten Realty Employees in Action for the City of Houston, was founded in the late 1980’s. This Company-wide employee volunteer group to provide the resources for additional charitable projects annually.
With all WRI’s accomplishments, the Company takes pride in the following:
- Provided the first space for the Houston Food Bank, a program that is an integral part of helping the Houston Community
- Development of the first child care center for the homeless child, The House
of Tiny Treasures. That program operates today as SEARCH.
- Providing space and other resources for Dress For Success-Houston
- The Houston READ commission
- Supporting United Way-Houston with WRI’s yearly campaign
Weingarten 50 years
In 1997, Stanford Alexander became chairman and CEO of Weingarten Realty Investors, and his son, Drew Alexander, was named president. In 1998, the Company reached another milestone that is rare in any industry, its 50th Anniversary.
During those first 50 years, the Company grew its portfolio:
- From 4 small properties to 217
- Increased square footage from 51,000 to over 26 million
- Increased market capitalization from $60,000 to over $1 Billion
- Expanded from 1 city and 1 state to more than 55 cities in 13 states
Most importantly for shareholders and investors, the Company achieved yearly increases since becoming a publicly traded company in:
- Funds from operations and dividends
As the company entered the new millennium, the growth of its retail and industrial portfolio flourished. In 2001, Weingarten made its largest acquisition to date with the purchase of 19 supermarket-anchored shopping centers in California. This purchase extended the company’s coast-to-coast presence to 15 southern states.
By early 2001, there were over 15 new developments underway in Louisiana, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada and several more in the planning stage. It was that very same year Weingarten’s president, Drew Alexander was named the third, and current, Chief Executive Officer, representing the third member of the Weingarten family to lead the realty company.