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LAKELAND, FL-Counting on growing population and family income levels, Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust of Southfield, MI is redeveloping and expanding its 174,000-sf Shoppes of Lakeland shopping center here to 300,000 sf. A new Target department store will occupy 126,000 sf.

Dennis Gershenson, the Michigan company’s president and CEO, says the company is completing lease negotiations with one undisclosed user to occupy the former 72,000-sf Builder’s Square space and working with national retailers to rent the additional 52,800 sf of ancillary retail space. A number of outparcels are also being designed.

Gershenson didn’t disclose the estimated construction cost of the new work. But area construction industry estimators tell GlobeSt.com the number should come in at about $15 million. That figure would include an estimated hard construction cost of $12.6 million for the Target store. The property is 60 miles south of Downtown Orlando.

Besides population and income demographics, Gershenson anticipates Shoppes of Lakeland will also prosper from its proximity to the 900,000-sf Lakeland Square regional mall. The REIT has been scouting Florida for niche properties over the past two years, area brokers tell GlobeSt.com.

In May of this year, Ramco-Gershenson added the five-year-old, 62,000-sf Publix at River Crossing shopping center in New Port Richey, FL to its portfolio of 11.8 million sf of gross leasable area in 60 community centers, as GlobeSt.com previously reported. The REIT paid River Crossing Partnership $7.15 million, or $115.32 per sf, for the 100%-leased property, 20 miles north of Tampa, FL and 80 miles west of Downtown Orlando.

And in June 2002, Ramco-Gershenson bought the 105,912-sf Crossroads Shopping Center in Royal Palm Beach, FL from Crossroads at Royal Palm Joint Venture for $18.5 million, or $175 per sf. Prudential Real Estate Investors of Newark, NJ was part of the seller consortium.

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