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LONDON-Mills Corporation is set for its first foray into the UK, a £800 million ($1.3 billion) development in Scotland.

The US real estate investment trust is on the brink of signing a joint venture agreement to develop a multi-million pound leisure and retail scheme at the site of the former Ravenscraig steelworks in Lanarkshire.

The Virginia-based company, which owns 25 of America’s largest malls, is considering plans to develop more than one million sf in partnership with British construction group Wilson Bowden. Mills interest in the scheme has been widely speculated in Scottish property circles recently and management is understood to have flown out to the UK recently.

The deal depends on approval from the Scottish Executive for the regeneration of Ravenscraig. Plans for the 1,125-acre site include the creation of a new town center, 3,500 homes, a 10,000-seat sports arena with bars and restaurants, a 1.2-million-sf industrial park, a one-million-sf business campus and a hotel. The Scottish Executive was due to give its approval for the plans by mid-September, but that deadline was recently extended by four weeks.

But developers of rival retail and leisure facilities in the area are questioning whether the west of Scotland needs another out-of-town retail park. As well as Braehead Shopping Centre and Glasgow’s city center, Glasgow Fort, a 500,000-sf retail and leisure complex, is being developed by Pillar Properties and Capital & Regional in Easterhouse.

The problem is that without a major retail-leisure component the regeneration of the site is unlikely to be financially viable. The Ravenscraig Partnership, a joint venture between Wilson Bowden, Scottish Enterprise Lanarkshire and steel maker Corus–which owns the site–is thought to be among the largest of its kind in Europe.

If the inclusion of Mills goes ahead it will be the company’s second foray into Europe. Earlier this year the company unveiled plans for a 1.4 million-sf shopping and leisure center in Madrid at a cost of £400 million ($670.4 million).

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