The two companies had worked together on Casto's first lifestyleproject, Winter Park Village, in Winter Park, FL. Tony Martin, apartner with Casto, tells GlobeSt.com, that the experience led tohis firm's first foray into property ownership outside the US. Hesays he thinks the retail opportunities here are pretty strong,with a high barrier to entry and strong sales levels. Casto willown 50% of the company, and Commercial Centers will continue tomanage and lease the properties.

"There's very limited land on which to build on the island,there's a rainforest and mountains, and they are environmentallysensitive. Where a process here might take a year to get zoned, itmay take seven-eight years there," Martin says.

Tourism is not really a factor, he says, with the industry beingonly about 10% to 15% of the island's GNP. However, the mid-leveltenants, such as Sears, Marshalls and Walgreens, seem to do well,and aren't affected by the struggling US economy, Martin says."About 40% of our tenants are locally-based, so we have a good mixof national and local," he says. "Our occupancy rate is in the low90% range. Also, our partner is part of the Chainlinks network, sothey're doing a lot of tenant representation, so we hope to benefitfrom those relationships."

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