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PHOENIX-Regency Centers, a Jacksonville, FL-based REIT, is on the fast track to expand its retail presence in Arizona and Colorado. Real estate veteran Snowden Leftwich has been brought on board to steer the strategy.

“We are extremely excited about boosting our involvement in retail development in the Denver and Phoenix market,” says James Buis, managing director of investments for the Southwest region for Regency Centers.

Regency Centers has six retail centers either under construction or under development in Arizona. The Phoenix properties are Carefree Marketplace in Phoenix, totaling 85,600 sf and anchored by a Fry’s Food Store and South Mountain Shopping Center, an 81,600-sf site anchored by a Safeway. In Chandler, the REIT is building two Safeway-anchored centers, the 95,800-sf Ocotillo Center and the 89,5000-sf The Provinces. Safeway also is anchoring the 85,700-sf Stonebridge in Mesa and Safeway Vistoso, a 90,000-sf center in Tucson.

Regency is poised to grow dramatically in both Arizona and Colorado, says Leftwich.”Regency has completed extensive market research in these areas and now it is time to implement our plan,” he says. “We’re looking forward to becoming a familiar name throughout Colorado and Arizona.”

There are two other Valley projects that is on the drawing boards, but it’s too early to reveal the locations, Leftwich says. Regency looks to build in areas of high growth, near busy intersections where their tenants want to be located, he tells GlobeSt.com. They typically look for lots of 15 acres or more to develop. “We try to focus our efforts on the top two or three grocery stores in the market,” he says. “Where those guys are going is where we are going.”

The recent shakeup in the Valley’s retail market with the departure of some grocery stores and other large retailers will not impact how Regency Centers develops, Leftwich says. If an opportunity comes up, Regency Centers would consider purchasing one of thevacated centers and redeveloping it to accommodate what grocery stores are looking for, he says.

While most of the grocery store space that had been vacated is now filled, some of the smaller size spaces–under 50,000 sf–remain up for grabs. Most grocery stores are seeking 58,000 to 62,000 sf.

“Phoenix is a great market and we would like to do a lot of projects there,” Leftwich says. “There is a lot of growth there and it is just an area where our customers and our grocery stores are growing. It is natural for us to grow with them.” Regency Centers has more than $3 billion in assets, including more than 242 retail properties totaling 27.8 million sf.

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