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ORLANDO-Jacksonville-based St. Joe Commercial has pre-leased more than 90,000-sf at the 190,000-sf Pier Park retail facility. St. Joe is developing the property in partnership with the city of Panama City Beach.

Orlando-based Quality Centers is building the outlet-retail center, which is located at the Panama City Beach Pier on the Gulf Coast. When completed, the property will include more than six acres of beachfront facilities and 50 acres of adjacent retail, dining, entertainment, hotel and timeshare facilities.

In addition, 70 acres of highway-oriented commercial space is planned. Phase one of the project is expected to cost $70 million and delivery is scheduled for 2003.

St. Joe president Frank W. Herring Jr. says the firm proposed more than 20 development sites earlier this week at the International Council of Shopping Centers annual expo in Las Vegas and notes that 10 of those are already going to contract. The strongest response has been from grocery developers looking for quality neighborhood retail centers and from specialty retailers want space at Pier Park.

“We’re seeing a strong trend back to the basics,” says Herring. “In years past ICSC expo activity was characterized by a few dozen large-scale retailers who courted by every developer in the country.”

“Neighborhood scale retail centers that supply basic retail needs in a community are more dependent on regional and local population growth,” Herring notes. “Expansion of grocery and drugstore-anchored retail centers wasn’t affected by the recession or by Sept. 11.”

Herring states that interest in St. Joe developments includes one site in DeLand, where the firm is in negotiations with Publix Super Markets.

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