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DENVER-Archstone-Smith Operating Trust, the operating partnership of Archstone Properties Trust, recently issued $250 million in senior notes due 2008. Archstone, based along Denver’s southeast corridor, is one of the nation’s largest apartment REITs.

The debt was assigned a BBB+ rating by Fitch Ratings. Proceeds from the offering will be used to reduce amounts outstanding under Archstone’s line of credit.

Fitch also affirmed the ‘BBB+’ for $1.67 billion outstanding senior unsecured notes due 2003-2017, and ‘BBB’ for $222 million outstanding preferred stock. The “rating outlook” is stable.

The ratings agency says it remains encouraged by management’s continued efforts to improve the size of its unencumbered portfolio since its acquisition of the Charles E. Smith portfolio in 2001.

Archstone-Smith’s secured debt now represents 47% of total debt down from 60% at year-end 2001.

Archstone-Smith, which likes to own and develop units in places with huge barriers to entry, owns 205 apartment communities, representing 74,052 apartment units, including 2,501 units under construction.

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