Commitments and Contingencies
|12 Months Ended|
Dec. 31, 2020
|Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]|
|Commitments and Contingencies||
The Company carries comprehensive liability, fire, extended coverage, business interruption and rental loss insurance covering all of the properties in its portfolio under a blanket insurance policy, in addition to other coverages, such as trademark and pollution coverage that may be appropriate for certain of its properties. Additionally, the Company carries a directors’, officers’, entity and employment practices liability insurance policy that covers such claims made against the Company and its directors and officers. The Company believes the policy specifications and insured limits are appropriate and adequate for its properties given the relative risk of loss, the cost of the coverage and industry practice; however, its insurance coverage may not be sufficient to fully cover its losses.
Concentration of Credit Risk
The Company is subject to risks incidental to the ownership and operation of commercial real estate. These risks include, among others, the risks normally associated with changes in the general economic climate, trends in the retail industry, creditworthiness of tenants, competition for tenants and customers, changes in tax laws, interest rates, the availability of financing and potential liability under environmental and other laws.
The Company’s portfolio of properties is dependent upon regional and local economic conditions and is geographically located in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, which markets represented approximately 61%, 35% and 4%, respectively, of the total annualized base rent of the properties in its portfolio as of December 31, 2020. The Company’s geographic concentration may cause it to be more susceptible to adverse developments in those markets than if it owned a more geographically diverse portfolio. Additionally, the Company’s retail shopping center properties depend on anchor stores or major tenants to attract shoppers and could be adversely affected by the loss of, or a store closure by, one or more of these tenants.
Regulatory and Environmental
As the owner of the buildings on our properties, the Company could face liability for the presence of hazardous materials (e.g., asbestos or lead) or other adverse conditions (e.g., poor indoor air quality) in its buildings. Environmental laws govern the presence, maintenance, and removal of hazardous materials in buildings, and if the Company does not comply with such laws, it could face fines for such noncompliance. Also, the Company could be liable to third parties (e.g., occupants of the buildings) for damages related to exposure to hazardous materials or adverse conditions in its buildings, and the Company could incur material expenses with respect to abatement or remediation of hazardous materials or other adverse conditions in its buildings. In addition, some of the Company’s tenants routinely handle and use hazardous or regulated substances and wastes as part of their operations at our properties, which are subject to regulation. Such environmental and health and safety laws and regulations could subject the Company or its tenants to liability resulting from these activities. Environmental liabilities could affect a tenant’s ability to make rental payments to the Company, and changes in laws could increase the potential liability for noncompliance. This may result in significant unanticipated expenditures or may otherwise materially and adversely affect the Company’s operations. The Company is not aware of any material contingent liabilities, regulatory matters or environmental matters that may exist.
The Company is involved in various legal proceedings arising in the ordinary course of its business, including, but not limited to commercial disputes. The Company believes that such litigation, claims and administrative proceedings will not have a material adverse impact on its financial position or its results of operations. The Company records a liability when it considers the loss probable and the amount can be reasonably estimated. In addition, the below legal proceedings are in process.
Jon Wheeler v. Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust, Inc., Circuit Court for the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Former CEO, Jon Wheeler, alleged that his employment was improperly terminated and that he was owed severance and bonus payments pursuant to his Employment Agreement. The Company filed a counterclaim against Mr. Wheeler for reimbursement of personal expenses the Company paid, but that Mr. Wheeler should have borne. The Court found in favor of Jon Wheeler on his claim that his employment was terminated without cause. The Court denied Mr. Wheeler’s claims for a bonus and that his termination of employment was wrongful as a violation of public policy. The Court awarded the Company $5 thousand on its counterclaim. At a hearing on September 4, 2020 on Jon Wheeler’s motion for the award of attorneys’ fees, costs, and pre-judgment interest, the Court awarded Mr. Wheeler the requested costs, but awarded no attorneys’ fees and no pre-judgment interest. In total, Mr. Wheeler was awarded $520 thousand. In October 2020, the Company settled with Mr. Wheeler for $500 thousand which is included on the Company's consolidated statements of operations under the line "other expenses." Mr. Wheeler preserved his right to appeal the Court’s denial of an award of attorneys’ fees and pre-judgment interest. The Virginia Supreme Court has not yet rendered a decision as to whether it will grant the Petition for Appeal and allow the appeal to proceed.
BOKF, NA v. WD-I Associates, LLC, Wheeler Real Estate, LLC and Jon S. Wheeler, Court of Common Pleas, Beaufort County, South Carolina. BOKF (“Bank of Arkansas”), filed an action on April 9, 2019 in Beaufort County, South Carolina, for foreclosure of the mortgage it held on the real property and improvements comprising Sea Turtle Marketplace Shopping Center (“Sea Turtle”) which was owned by WD-I Associates, LLC (“WD-I”), and Jon S. Wheeler had guaranteed the debt. Bank of Arkansas sought the appointment of a receiver to take possession and control of Sea Turtle pending the completion of the foreclosure action. In response, WD-I filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code on May 7, 2019. The bankruptcy filing stayed the foreclosure action in State Court. On May 1, 2020, the Bankruptcy Court granted the dismissal of the WD-I bankruptcy case upon the provisions for payment of the $200 thousand to creditors. The Company received an aggregate payment of $196 thousand in May 2020 and recorded the receipt on the Company's consolidated statements of operations under the line "other revenues".
David Kelly v. Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust, Inc., Circuit Court for the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Former CEO David Kelly filed suit on May 28, 2020, alleging that his employment was improperly terminated and that he is owed severance pay and related benefits pursuant to his employment agreement. He claims breach of his employment contract against the company. Initially, his suit included tort claims against Joseph Stilwell and Daniel Khoshaba; the Court dismissed those tort claims and the individual defendants at a hearing on December 15, 2020. On his remaining claim of breach of contract, Mr. Kelly seeks damages of $400 thousand, plus unpaid bonuses and benefits, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees, and costs. The Company is defending the action on the grounds that Mr. Kelly’s employment was properly terminated for cause. Trial is set for March 2-4, 2022. At this juncture, the outcome of the matter cannot be predicted.
Harbor Pointe Tax Increment Financing
On September 1, 2011, the Grove Economic Development Authority issued the Grove Economic Development Authority Tax Increment Revenue Note, Taxable Series 2011 in the amount of $2.42 million, bearing a variable interest rate of 2.29%, not to exceed 14% and payable in 50 semi-annual installments. The proceeds of the bonds were to provide funding for the construction of public infrastructure and other site improvements and to be repaid by incremental additional property taxes generated by development. Harbor Pointe Associates, LLC, then owned by an affiliate of former CEO, Jon Wheeler, entered into an Economic Development Agreement with the Grove Economic Development Authority for this infrastructure development and in the event the ad valorem taxes were insufficient to cover annual debt service, Harbor Pointe Associates, LLC would reimburse the Grove Economic Development Authority (the “Harbor Pointe Agreement”). In 2014, Harbor Pointe Associates, LLC was acquired by the Company.
The total debt service shortfall over the life of the bond is uncertain as it is based on ad valorem taxes, assessed property values, property tax rates, LIBOR and future potential development ranging until 2036. The Company’s future total principal obligation under the Harbor Pointe Agreement will be no more than $2.21 million, the principal amount of the bonds, as of December 31, 2020. In addition, the Company may have an interest obligation on the note based on the principal balance and LIBOR rates in effect at future payment dates. In 2020 and 2019, we funded approximately $0 and $79 thousand, respectively in debt service shortfalls. No amounts have been accrued for this as of December 31, 2020 as a reasonable estimate of future debt service shortfalls cannot be determined based on variables noted above.
The entire disclosure for commitments and contingencies.
Reference 1: http://fasb.org/us-gaap/role/ref/legacyRef