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UPDATE:CHICAGO-Urban Retail Properties’ split from the three companies that owned the third-party retail property manager will allow the firm to become an owner-developer, Ross Glickman, the company’s CEO told GSR. “We want to build an asset base and do it very strategically,” he said. “That is very much a priority.”

Until last week, the company was a privately held subsidiary of General Growth Properties, Simon Property Group and Westfield Group. The three mall owners acquired Urban in 2002 as part of their $5.3 billion acquisition of the Rodamco North America portfolio. (General Growth gained its share through its purchase last year of the Rouse Co., which bought Rodamco along with Simon and Westfield.) Prior to that, Rodamco had owned Urban in 2000.

Before those acquisitions, the over 30-year-old Urban Retail existed under many entities, and was a major US mall owner in the 1990s. Though many of Urban’s trophy malls, such as portions of Copley Place in Boston, Water Tower Place in Chicago and San Francisco (CA) Centre, were absorbed in the Rodamco deal, the company currently manages 45 million sf of retail space and is involved in the development of many development projects across the country, including the $300 million Centre Pointe at Pleasant Grove in Rogers, AR.

Some ways the company could grow is through joint ventures with existing clients, Glickman says. He predicts that his company could start working on building its portfolio son. “I think that the asset base is going to come relatively quickly in pieces,” he said. “We’re not out there building regional malls.”

Some industry observers agree that the company’s asset base will grow. Steven Greenberg, president of the Hewlett, NY-based Greenberg Group, a retail real estate consulting firm, said that Urban has the ability to again become competitive in the ownership business. “They know how to do it,” he says. “They’ve done it before. They had some of the most successful malls in the country.”

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