Our fourth quarter was marked by some strong achievements. Our growth strategy continued to progress, several industry organizations recognized Kimco with new awards, and MLV Capital initiated coverage of Kimco in November.

In case you missed any of our news, here’s a look back at some of the activity at our company, and top media stories featuring Kimco in the fourth quarter and during these first few days of the new year.

First, a round of applause

As I mentioned, our fourth quarter saw several industry recognitions. Notably, Commercial Property Executive gave CEO David Henry an honorable mention as Retail Property Executive of the Year. CRE Radio put it well after interviewing Dave for an Icons of Real Estate radio show: “David embodies the best of a CEO in commercial real estate.”

Kimco’s corporate social responsibility initiatives drew recognition from NAREIT, which gave us a 2013 Leader in the Light Award. These awards recognize NAREIT members that have demonstrated excellence in sustainability and energy efficiency.

GreenTechMedia also recognized Kimco in the fourth quarter as a leader in solar power use at commercial buildings, noting our six solar installations that total over three megawatts of installed production capacity.

Three facets to growth

On Dec. 12, we held Kimco Investor Day 2013 at the New York Palace Hotel -- our first since 2010. Investor Day is a highly anticipated day for investors and analysts, where they have the first look at our upcoming growth strategy and plans for strengthening our portfolio. This year, we were excited to share the progress we have made over the last few years, and to discuss the three-pronged strategy we have developed to generate shareholder return: transforming our portfolio, simplifying our business model, and redeveloping our properties.

Kimco traded up to higher quality properties in well-located areas through strategic acquisitions and dispositions throughout the fourth quarter. As CoStar noted, Kimco is focusing on delivering strong operating metrics and making significant improvements in the demographics and profile of our retail property portfolio.

As part of this initiative, Kimco signed an agreement to acquire 24 properties in New England, which will bring 17 properties in the Boston metropolitan market to our portfolio with national tenants including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Lowes, Kohl’s, Petco, Pier 1 Imports, Aldi Supermarket, CVS, and Walgreens. noted that Kimco acquired three retail centers in Clark, N.J., with ShopRite, A&P Fresh Market, Rite Aid, and Bally Total Fitness among the roster of national tenants in our new centers.

But, as said, “bigger isn’t always better – better is better,” and that’s why we’ve been pruning our portfolio to only include retail assets that are most aligned to our core strengths and locations. On that note, our divestment of a 50-percent interest in a portfolio of nine retail properties in Mexico garnered media attention, and continued to refine our portfolio. Additional divested properties in the fourth quarter include a 150,045-square-foot Chicago-area shopping center for $19.0 million, and the 167,243-square-foot Trolley Station center in Tennessee for $2.7 million.

On the redevelopment front, projects such as our West Farm Shopping Center are already showing noteworthy results, including a 98-percent lease rate, and an 8-percent year-over-year sales increase (as of Sept. 30, 2013, for tenants that report sales). The redevelopment of our Richmond Shopping Center on Staten Island has also recently caught the attention of Staten Island Advance’s shoppers, who geared up for a new look and new tenants at the center, including the highly anticipated arrival of Target.

Outside Baltimore, Kimco has broken ground at the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center to create a single-use building, to be open by early 2015. Moving forward, we will continue to improve our properties through structural and aesthetic upgrades, re-configuring space, and improved tenancy.

More retail industry news

Holiday shopping took center stage in the fourth quarter, with Dave Henry weighing in on retail traffic during the holidays in a CNBC interview.

Entering 2014, the Marketplace Fairness Act continues to hang in the balance. The Senate passed the bill last May, and it is now up to the House to approve it. We, and hundreds of other organizations, are working to move the bill through Congress with a new letter we signed this month urging House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte to pass the legislation.

Going greener

Corporate responsibility remains integral to our operations and to the future of the retail real estate industry. During the fourth quarter, our Director of Sustainability, Will Teichman, shared his insights in a GreenBiz article on the four most common mistakes energy technology vendors make when pitching their services to commercial building owners. Will also helped educate fellow shopping center owners about changing energy benchmarking and disclosure laws.

Overall, 2013 brought positive momentum to the retail real estate industry, giving us a lot to be thankful for this past year.

With that, we wrap up some of the biggest news highlights and events from the fourth quarter. Check back here for a recap of our quarterly financial results after we issue our earnings press release, and for our insights into where 2014 will take us from a company and industry perspective.