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NEW YORK CITY-The heavyweights are grabbing up shopping centers in the Northeast for the most practical of reasons: because they can. With cash on hand, portfolios of occupied properties and historically low interest rates, the major REITS are the primary buyers of community shopping centers these days.

Faith Hope Consolo, vice chairman of Garrick-Aug Worldwide tells GlobeSt.com, “It’s the big guys, the ones you know,” that are in acquisition mode, she says. “The Kimkos, the Argent Partners, all the big REITS. They have the wherewithal to withstand good times and bad and can afford to take a long-term view.”

The economic strategy behind buying shopping centers in a soft economy is as basic as capitalism can get. “It’s like the stock market. You buy low and ride the market back up. There are opportunities for companies that have cash.”

And investing in shopping centers looks like a good place to stash that cash, even on a short-term basis. “We’re headed for recovery. In six to nine months they’ll ride the swing back up.”

Buyers prepared for a longer-term investment are looking at malls and shopping centers with solid track records and high occupancy rates. And REITS with large shopping-center portfolios can afford to stagger their buy-sell activity as the economy dictates. “Some centers that are leased are proven commodities, so the REITS are willing to wait it out. It may be a 3-to-5-year wait, but they may have other centers as well.”

As far as new construction in the Northeast goes, it isn’t going anywhere right now, Consolo says. “Not in the Northeast. We’ll have a better idea in January about what new projects are coming online, if any.”

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