(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of Real EstateFlorida.)

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MIAMI-Flagler Development Group will break ground Oct. 21 on thenext phase of TIAA-CREF's $100-million rehabilitation of theexisting Kendall Town & Country Center, which has now beenrenamed the Palms at Town & Country. The newest development atthe 72-acre site, located at 8268 Mills Drive, is set to include400,000 sf of open-air retail that will be built over the nextthree years. Approximately 150,000 sf of the new product will bedelivered next fall, says Jim Padron, senior development managerwith Flagler.

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Phase one of the open-air center is finished, includingrenovation of an existing 300,000-sf convenience center, thebuilding of an 88,000-sf Kohl's and the demolition of an existingindoor mall on the site. The department store, which did its ownconstruction, opened Oct. 1, says Padron. The existing building,which has been given a major facelift and parking revamp, is alsoopen with national retailers such as Marshall's, 24 Hour Fitnessand Publix. In June GlobeSt.com reported thatJones Lang LaSalle was hired by TIAA-CREF as the leasing agent forthe project.

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"With the economic downturn many retailers are pulling back onopenings and leasing, especially in secondary and tertiarymarkets," says Michael J. Longmore, senior vice president with JLL."We have found with this project it hasn't been the case," he says."We've had major leasing response from national and localretailers." The central location off the Florida Turnpike andKendall Drive is one of the top retail sites in the market, hesays, and the 200,000 cars that go by the spot each day has been amajor draw to the Palms at Town & Country.

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Two medical office condo buildings totaling 134,000 sf,including four levels of structured parking, were also recentlycompleted on the site. Almost 50% of the units in the firstbuilding are in the process of closing, says Padron.

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In total, TIAA-CREF and Flagler hope to create a one-million-sfpedestrian-friendly lifestyle center in the growing Kendallsubmarket. According to a third-quarter Marcus & Millichapretail report, the Coral Gables/Kendall market enjoys the lowestvacancy rates in Miami-Dade County at 3.9%, with average rentalrates of $25.05, the highest in the county.

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