Local real estate company buys JANAF Shopping Yard for $85 million

NORFOLK, Va. – The JANAF Shopping Yard has a new owner. The price tag? $85.6 million.

Virginia Beach-based Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust, Inc. made the announcement that it purchased the near-900,000 square foot shopping destination from an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company, Monday.

It’s the largest retail transaction in Hampton Roads in five years, the release said.

JANAF, which stands for Joint Army Navy Air Force, opened in 1959.

Chairman and CEO of Wheeler, Jon Wheeler, says the location was a draw for his company because of its location at the busy intersection of Virginia Beach Boulevard and Military Highway.

It’s also close to the under-construction IKEA and the recently-opened Norfolk Premium Outlets both located on Northampton Boulevard.

“JANAF is an iconic property located nine miles from our corporate headquarters. This asset aligns perfectly with our business strategy of owning the dominant center in secondary and tertiary markets,” said Wheeler. “We expect JANAF to be a long-term play for WHLR as we believe there is tremendous value in the underlying real estate. ”

Wheeler tells News 3 he’s already planning on improvements for the property, which will start with landscaping and paint jobs, but will eventually lead to much more.

“We’d like to work with the City of Norfolk to run light rail through there. They’d like it to come from 264, down Military Highway, on to the airport,” he said. “It’s a situation where we can coordinate and work with them. Also we’d like to have a hotel component, maybe another office building, some multi-family (homes), but just as importantly, some additional retail out in the parking field.”

Wheeler says his company will interview tenants at JANAF to assess the health of businesses, which could lead to some tenants being downsized, up-sized or displaced.