Multi-Employer Property Trust (MEPT) and Bentall Kennedy, its exclusive real estate investment advisor, purchased two grocery-anchored shopping centers in the Washington, D.C. area for approximately $122.6 million through two separate transactions. The assets include Woodland Park Crossing, a 137,028-sq.-ft. center in Herndon, Va., and Penn Mar Shopping Center, a 387,028-sq.-ft. property in Forestville, Md.

Woodland Park Crossing was completed four years ago and is part of a larger mixed-use complex that includes Woodland Park Office Park and 200-unit Monroe Place apartments. The center is currently 97.5 percent leased and benefits from an affluent customer base and steady shopper traffic. In 2016, Metrorail’s Herndon-Monroe Station extension will open within walking distance of the property, which should further help Woodland Park Crossing’s performance, according to Bentall Kennedy’s estimates. JBG Rosenfeld Retail will serve as the leasing and managing agent for the center.

Penn Mar Shopping Center has an occupancy rate of 95 percent. Shoppers Food & Pharmacy anchors the asset. Other tenants include Burlington Coat Factory, Dollar Tree, Staples, Party City and Petco. Rosenthal Properties will serve as the leasing and managing agent for Penn Mar Shopping Center.

“We believe consumer demand for necessity goods will continue to drive sales growth at grocery-anchored, neighborhood centers such as Woodland Park Crossing and Penn Mar Shopping Centers,” said David Antonelli, executive vice president of Bentall Kennedy, in a statement. “As a result, we believe these properties are a great fit for MEPT’s portfolio, especially since they are located in submarkets in the Washington, D.C. area with solid demographics and attractive long-term growth prospects.”

A third quarter report from Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, an Encino, Calif.-based brokerage firm, projects that by the end of the year the average retail vacancy rate in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region will decline 20 basis points, to 5.8 percent. Retail vacancies in suburban Virginia and Maryland are trending even lower, in the low 4-percent range.

MEPT is a $5.3 billion open-end commingled real estate equity fund that invests in institutional-quality properties in 30 major metropolitan markets across the country.