Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The Wawa Net Lease Market
As a relative newcomer to the net lease market, Wawa convenient store gas stations are one of the hottest sought after triple net lease investment properties in the net lease market today. With an implied credit rating of BBB- / outlook Stable, most investors understand the credit-worthiness of
this privately owned company, which is considered one of the strongest convenient store operators in the country. In 2009, Wawa was ranked No. 55 in Forbes’ America’s Largest Private Companies list. Wawa currently operates more than 570 convenient stores throughout the mid-Atlantic, 270+ of which include gasMost Wawa net leases properties offer an investor long-term security and absolutely no management responsibilities in the form of a 20-year primary term nnn ground lease. These ground leases provide additional investment security given the nature of the real estate investment made by Wawa’s real estate team, including the Wawa Engineering and Construction Department which is responsible for the design, engineering and construction of all new stores and remodels. As with any ground lease investment, a landlord should be comforted by the fact that the tenant, in this case Wawa, has made a significant capital investment in the construction of the building, which at the end of the lease will become property of the ground lease owner.
Also driving the demand and value of Wawa net lease properties is the strong real estate fundamentals of the property sites. Wawa’s real estate team has specific site select criteria, which focus on key trade area location characteristics. Wawa net lease properties are typically located at signalized corners and out-parcel/pads of shopping centers with good visibility and ingress/egress. Ideal trade area characteristics include adequate population and minimum traffic counts of at least 25,000 vehicles per day. Sites should be located on high-volume intersections near other commercial traffic generators.
Wawa's namesake is a Native American word for the Canada Goose in flight, which is also incorporated into the company's logo. Wawa owns and operates convenience stores and gasoline stations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. These stores offer a fresh food selection under the Wawa brand including deli products, wraps, breakfast sandwiches, bakery products, fresh produce, and dairy products. The first Wawa store opened in April 1964 in Folsom, Pennsylvania.