Washington’s largest shopping center is under new ownership.
The Hoffmann Family of Companies has entered into an agreement to purchase the Phoenix Shopping Center in Washington and an additional 16 acres of undeveloped land from developer Joe Vernaci.
Announced in a press release Friday, the purchase includes the buildings housing major retail box stores, grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses.
“With a diverse retail base in the center of approximately 50 different retailers and a very high occupancy rate, the center offered the stability and returns our company seeks to achieve,” said Clayton Jones, executive vice-president of corporate development for the Hoffmann Family of Companies.
Based in Naples, Florida, the Hoffmann Family of Companies has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the region since 2021, when owner and Washington-native David Hoffmann announced his plan to transform Augusta into a national tourism destination.
Since then, he and his wife Jerri Hoffmann have purchased six wineries, several retail stores, restaurants and dozens of other area businesses. Hoffmann Hillermann Nursery & Florist, Schulte’s Bakery, Ziglin Signs and Mid-American Coaches are some of the businesses the Hoffmann Family of Companies has purchased south of the Missouri River.
Sons Greg and Geoff Hoffmann now run the Hoffmann Family of Companies.
Greg Hoffmann with Executive Vice-President of Corporate Development Clayton Jones, negotiated and evaluated the purchase of the Phoenix Center from Vernaci for an undisclosed price. Vernaci had owned the land since 2006.
The sale also includes Phoenix Center I, which includes The Creek Grill & Sports Bar, an Anytime Fitness gym, Quest Diagnostics laboratory, and several other small retailers and restaurants.
Vernaci, who is 76, said he has known David Hoffmann since they were kids and that the two had discussed the sale for “a few years.”
“I honestly can’t think of a better person, a better group to take over the Phoenix Center than the Hoffman family,” Vernaci said. “They’ve got a tremendous vested interest in this area. The kind of property we’re selling typically would go to an institutional investor — a Reach (Capital) or someone like that who wouldn‘t know the first thing about Washington, the Hoffmanns do.”
Vernaci said he has no plans to take on a new project the size of the Phoenix Center.
Including national chains such as Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohls and Ross, the Phoenix Center has over 50 tenants and has approximately 500,000 square feet of retail space, according to the press release. Comprising an estimated 80 acres in all, the purchase does not include the more-than 12 acres nearby where owner and developer Kurt Unnerstall plans to build a senior living community, homes and apartments.
Greg Hoffmann said the Hoffmann Family of Companies is not new to purchasing commercial retail developments like the Phoenix Center, but called this purchase “exciting” and “more personal” because of their connection to Washington.
“We’ve got a vested interest in the community with not only just being from there and fellow Missourians, but also the development and things that we’re doing around the area too,” he said.
Greg Hoffmann said the Hoffmann Family of Companies has no intentions of selling the Phoenix Center in the immediate future and the corporation hasn’t planned changes other than “cosmetic upgrades” that could include “fresh coats of paint” or landscaping from the nearby Hoffmann Hillermann Nursery & Florist. As for the improved but undeveloped 16 acres, he said the business is studying the market.
“We’re going to leave that to the future,” he said. “I mean, we certainly have our ideas and there will be something developed there sooner rather than later; we don’t know exactly what that will be yet. We’re running our market analysis, but knowing that, whatever we do, obviously is going to be in the best interest of downtown, Washington. And that that’s our main focus.”