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WASHINGTON, DC-With more than 96% of its grocery-anchored shopping centers under lease, Regency Centers Corp. expects a profitable 2005 and an even more optimistic 2006 and beyond.

The Jacksonville, FL-based owner, operator and developer of grocery-anchored shopping centers, told investors and analysts at a Thursday presentation in Washington, DC that it anticipates strong growth will drive the yield on its development projects to more than 10% annually for each of the next few years.

In 2005 alone, the firm expects to put $91 million worth of new projects on line with that figure rising to $95 million by next year, reflecting about $45 million per year in returns, company officials said. But while development yields are dropping overall throughout the industry due to rising land and building costs, Regency officials say that the gap between its acquisition and development returns remain as robust as ever.

The company’s strong market positioning, particularly in the mid-Atlantic states, which Regency entered about five years ago, has made the firm one of the most dominant forces in most, if not all, of its markets. Helping to enhance its reputation has been the firm’s relationships with discount retailer Target. Forged and cultured in California, that relationship has made Regency the “go to” developer for many Target stores, including three which were recently built and five others in the planning stages, Regency officials said.

The company, whose pro-active leasing approach and aggressive merchandising efforts has kept occupancy rates at more than 96%, currently has 383 properties, including several held in joint ventures, and 48.9 million sf of retail space, most of it in major markets, in its portfolio. Since 2000, Regency has completed 92 shopping center developments at a net investment of $1.2 billion.

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