(Carl Cronan is editor of RealEstateFlorida.)

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JACKSONVILLE, FL-Regency Centers Corp. is forging ahead withdevelopment plans in spite of the prospect of losing some retailtenants to the economic downturn. The national owner and operatorof grocery-anchored shopping centers says it has 48 projects underdevelopment, representing an estimated investment of $1.1billion.

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The company says it is nearing completion of its 318,000-sfShops at Stonewall community shopping center in Gainesville, VA,nearly a year after acquiring 37 acres at Lee Highway and OldCarolina Road. Wegmans Food Markets Inc. will anchor the centerwith a 140,000-sf store, marking only the third Virginia locationfor the Rochester, NY-based upscale grocer.

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Besides featuring Wegmans' iconic clock tower, the Shoppes atStonewall will feature a broad range of retail tenants in 27 storesserving Lake Manassas area residents. Other anchors includeStaples, Michaels, Ross Dress for Less and Bed Bath &Beyond.

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"This is more of a community center, rather than a typicalneighborhood center. It's a much more complete environment," DonStedham, vice president of investments for Regency Centers, tellsGlobeSt.com. He adds that the strength of the center's anchors andother retailers will provide a stronger draw in sellingoutparcels.

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Regency Centers, which owns 450 retail properties totaling 60million sf in top national markets, this week posted first-quarterfinancial results including funds from operations totaling $61.2million or 87 cents per share, just ahead of analysts'expectations. Same-store net operating income grew 3.1% over thequarter, with total occupancy sustaining at 95% from the samequarter a year ago.

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"We expect internal growth to moderate as store closingsaccelerate" during the current quarter, says Paul Morgan ofFriedman Billings Ramsey & Co. in his latest research report.He points out that Regency Centers made no acquisitions during thefirst quarter, yet sold five outparcels for $29 million as well asthe residential portion of King Farm Village in Rockville, MD for$9.5 million, at an "impressive" cap rate of just over 4.8%.

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In a Marchinterview, Regency Centers president and COO Mary Lou Fialatold GlobeSt.com that the retail sector was preparing for toughtimes through the remainder of this year. Fiala will become chairof the International Council of Shopping Centers during thismonth's Las Vegas convention.

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"I believe over time there will be more retail bankruptcies anda slight decline in occupancy in most portfolios, and not the kindof rent growth we have had," Fiala said during an ICSC conferencein Hollywood, FL. "You have to stand back, do what you need to doand wait for the credit markets to turn back around."

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