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CHICAGO-Trizec Properties Inc. officials hope to sell about $300 million in assets next year, which could include retail properties that have performed better than expected this year. The REIT already has sold six properties in 2003 for nearly $295 million, which has reduced its debt load by $145 million.

“We’re going to opportunistically sell more assets,” said president and CEO Timothy H. Callahan in the company’s recent earnings conference call.

That could include office buildings in what the REIT considers to be its “non-core” markets as well as retail and hotel properties it has been attempting to shed. “It could go either way,” Callahan said of the sales mix.

Callahan said negotiations are under way with one potential buyer of the 445,000-sf Desert Passage retail property in Las Vegas. “We’re making very good progress on the sale of Desert Passage,” he added.

Meanwhile, sales per sf are up 19% at the 645,000-sf retail portion of Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles, which also includes a 600,000-sf hotel.

Closer to home, occupancy at Trizec Properties’ four Downtown Chicago properties improved 1.7 percentage points to 95.1% during the third quarter, even as vacancy rates increased across the market. Looking ahead, chief operating officer Casey Wold said the occupancy over the REIT’s 2.4 million sf of office assets here could improve to 96%.

Callahan is marking one year at the helm of the REIT now based at Sears Tower, coming to Trizec Properties, Inc. from Equity Office Properties Trust.

“I think we’ve come a long way and made great strides in gaining back credibility. … Our energy and focus of our people is entirely different than it was a year ago,” Callahan said. “However, we’re not done by any means.”

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