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JACKSONVILLE, FL-Noting the city’s population explosion in the last several years, Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust has closed on an acquisition of 465 prime acres along Interstate 95 and Airport Road where the Farmington Hills, MI-based developer plans River City Marketplace, a 125-acre mixed-use shopping complex totaling one million sf.

Ramco-Gershenson didn’t disclose the price of the land or the name of the seller. But area industrial brokers in a position to know tell the developer paid at least $100,000 per acre ($2.30 per sf) or a total $46.5 million for the dirt.

Ramco-Gershenson sold off about 19 acres of its acquisition to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. which plans to build a 203,091-sf superstore at an estimated hard construction cost of $20 million. The developer didn’t disclose the price of the Wal-Mart land.

The Michigan-based company also is negotiating with an unnamed developer for the creation of a 900-unit residential district. The first phase of River City Marketplace is tentatively slated to open in the first quarter 2006. A portion of the property may also be sold for the development of hotels, other commercial uses and a multifamily, townhouse project, according to the company.

“The River City Marketplace development is a wonderful opportunity for our company to further expand its presence in Florida and to become part of Jacksonville’s growth,” Dennis Gershenson, president and CEO of Ramco-Gershenson, says in a prepared statement. “The north Jacksonville trade area is experiencing tremendous population expansion and is vastly underserved in terms of shopping and dining destinations.”

Gershenson says he expects the shopping center’s location along Interstate 95 “in close proximity to a number of major thoroughfares will draw customers from as far north as Georgia.”

Richard Gershenson, the firm’s executive vice president and secretary, headed the development team that orchestrated the land purchase and plans for River City Marketplace.

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