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IRVINE, CA-Retail property specialist Reza Investment Group has established a new division called RIG Urban to focus on mixed use, urban revitalization and lifestyle center investments, according to Reza Etedali, founder of Reza Investment Group.

The new unit of Etedali’s shop is headed by Carlos Lopez, a 15-year industry veteran who joins RIG from Marcus & Millichap and before that was with Faris Lee. Etedali explains that RIG Urban’s specialty will be retail regeneration projects, urban development, and mixed-use developments that he believes can achieve returns “greater than those of traditional retail uses.”According to Lopez, the new division is a response to the “new urbanism” that is changing the face of cities. He says many of the assets his division will be focusing on are “more than meets the eye” investment opportunities. He cites companies like Hollywood-based CIM Group, an owner, developer and investor in mixed-use projects, as one of a class of new real estate investors who are seeking new urbanism investments to round out their portfolios. Besides Southern California, retail markets across the country are being affected by new urbanism, according to Lopez, who says the mixed-use projects are the result “a renewed interest in revitalizing downtown centers.” Typically these “new urbanism” projects reposition dated or functionally obsolete retail centers into dynamic mixed-use developments, lifestyle centers and urban main street villages, he points out. Among the factors driving the trend, he says, are the aging baby boomer population’s desire to live closer to shopping centers and public transportation, efforts by employers and civic planners to minimize commute times, the growth of the “cafe” culture brought on by retailers such as Starbucks, lack of available land to develop and accommodate the rapidly growing housing needs of the population, and an overall renewed desire by all age groups to live in the cosmopolitan city landscape.

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