ROME-The Mills Corp. plans to break ground in the summer on Mercati Generali, an 830,000-sf retail-entertainment center here near the Roman Forum and Coliseum on the former site of a food market. The project is Mills’ third outside of the United States.

Mills first foreign development, the 1.4 million-sf Madrid Xanadu, opened last year in Spain, and the firm’s Vaughan Mills, in suburban Toronto, also at 1.4 million sf, opened at the beginning of this month. Mills has been looking for additional sites in Italy and Spain for years. “Rome has long been a target market for us,” says Ronald Weidner, the company’s head of international operations, in a statement. “This project signals the next phase of our dynamic European growth strategy.”

Mills has not yet determined the cost of the project, says a spokesman. The company is building the development in partnership with European firms RDM/Fingen, Lamaro Appalti S.p.a., Consozio Cooperative Costruzioni, Cogeim and Centro Commerciale Cinecittà.

Mills officials did not name any official tenants but said that Mercati Generali will be home to 100 specialty and fashion tenants. The development will also include offices, a high-tech public research library, a recreation area called the Modern Baths and a public square called the Recinto, with art galleries and markets.

Mills executives have said they are also looking to build Italian centers in Florence and Milan. Besides Italy and Spain, the firm is also working on a project in Scotland. Including its two international projects, Arlington, VA-based Mills owns 38 centers totaling about 47 million sf.

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