CHICAGO-General Growth Properties, Inc. will team with ECE Projektmanagement G.m.b.H & Co. KG to build a 430,000-sf shopping center in Eskisehir, Turkey. The second-largest US retail REIT also has bought a 48% stake in ECE Turkiye Proje Yonetimi AS, a Turkish shopping center management company that oversees six properties.

The deals announced Thursday mark General Growth Properties’ first foray into Europe. The company already has joint venture deals in Brazil, Costa Rica and Venezuela.

“Turkey’s geographic location at the junction of Europe and Asia, its size and population growth, as well as recent economic development have created tremendous opportunities for investment,” says chief executive officer John Bucksbaum. “This is a great opportunity to collaborate and invest with such an experienced development and management company as ECE.”

The joint venture between the REIT and the Hamburg, Germany-based urban shopping center developer hopes to begin construction on the 430,000-sf ESPARK center this month with a fall 2007 opening scheduled. The retail center will include 150 storefronts, as well as a multi-screen theater.

“With our five years of experience in Turkey, we are extremely confident with the retail and shopping center prospects in the country,” says ECE Projektmanagement G.m.b.H & Co. KG chief executive officer Alexander Otto. “We see great potential for attractive developments and acquisitions of shopping centers in a number of Turkish cities.”

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