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VIENNA, VA-A Tysons Corner brokerage has teamed up with a startup broadband provider to wire strip malls and bring them into the digital age. Chain Links Retail Advisors, based here, the nation’s largest retail brokerage group, has signed up Miami-based MyShoppingCenter.com as its exclusive partner to provide broadband, Web site and other telecommunications services to the owners and tenants it represents.

The deal gives the new company access to 1,500 retail properties that Chain Links represents. The firm will earn royalties on services that MyShoppingCenter will provide, and has taken a warrant to buy equity in the new company, but would not disclose terms of the deal.

Chain Links officials believe it represents a fast way to bring broadband to retail sites. Despite the need for broadband services, retail centers have been largely overlooked as real estate and telecommunications companies rush to wire office buildings. “There hasn’t been the cost-justification for putting that fat pipe into a shopping center,” says Troy Peple, president of Chain Links.

Gary Mansfield, president and chief operating officer, says retailers need it even more than offices do. “The demands for multimedia solutions in retail are significantly higher,” he says. Consumers will use it more than office workers, generating higher requirements per square foot.

The company isn’t the only one trying to wire retail properties. MerchantWired, formed by a consortium of real estate investment trusts, is wiring malls, but MyShoppingCenter has aimed at the nation’s 45,000 strip malls. It plans to wire shopping centers for free, but charge for their use, paying owners a royalty. It also plans to sell Internet or telecommunications services, such as credit-card processing, video monitoring for security purposes or tracking customer behavior, or even help retailers fill sales jobs with kiosks. After collecting a large enough pool of retail owners and tenants, MyShoppingCenter also hopes to aggregate buying power for telecommunications services.

By striking deals with companies like Equity One, Regency Realty Corp. and Federal Realty Investment Trust, the company now has access to 500 properties, and expects to gain entrée to 2,500 more by yearend. It expects to start wiring the properties aggressively starting in the first quarter.

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