Capital & Regional is planning to convert two of its underutilised UK car parks and shopping centres into mixed-use neighbourhood hubs via a partnership with REEF Technology.

The UK community focused shopping centre real estate investment trust has agreed the venture with REEF, which will see underutilised elements of the Luton and Wood Green assets repurposed to provide locally curated goods, services and experiences.

REEF operates mobility, logistics hubs and neighbourhood kitchens in the US, Canada, and has a growing presence in Europe, likened to a WeWork for local retailers and restaurants.

Capital & Regional said the new hubs will further enhance the central role its shopping centres play in serving their local communities by satisfying the needs of the on-demand economy and creating new employment opportunities.

The partnership also aims to enhance the centres’ net operating income and ultimately the net asset value of the respective properties.

In November last year, REEF confirmed a $700m growth equity fund from a group of investors including Mubadala Investment Company and the SoftBank Vision Fund, and a $300m joint infrastructure vehicle with Oaktree Capital Management to buy real estate assets via REEF’s newly established Neighbourhood Property.

The combined $1bn will facilitate both the further development of its platform and to accelerate its US and global expansion, REEF said.

The transaction with Capital & Regional is the first time REEF will bring its full suite of alternate uses and car park management systems to shopping centres in the UK and initially covers the Capital & Regional’s Luton and Wood Green assets.

Discussions are also underway with regards to bringing the alternate uses to Capital & Regional’s Walthamstow and Ilford centres, the company said

Lawrence Hutchings, CEO of Capital & Regional said: “Our convenience-driven, community centre strategy is focussed on providing our local catchments with access to tailored goods and services in whatever form their needs require.

“While we fully understand the important role our centres continue to play as physical destinations, we are also acutely aware of the need to innovate and embrace the benefits of technology to ensure they fulfil their potential to play a vital role in the growing digitalisation of local economies – which has accelerated in the last year.

“Our centres are perfectly placed, given their town-centre location, to provide a range of supply chain, processing, final mile and micro logistics and storage services that bring new jobs, services and experiences to their local area to enhance the lives of all those who live and work there.”

Barak Zimerman, managing director – Europe for REEF said: “We’re excited to be partnering with Capital & Regional across its portfolio to help enhance the value of its retail assets. The need to adapt and transform retail has never been greater.

“Our leading proximity platform will enable Capital & Regional to plug into our ecosystem of alternative use case partnerships and drive its assets recovery as businesses evolve post-pandemic. REEF will drive commercial value and better serve the local neighbourhoods and communities with our last-mile logistics and mobility solutions.”

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