(Natalie Keith is a contributing writer to GlobeSt.com.)

FARMINGTON HILLS, MI-Two developers have established a $250-million private equity fund and are planning to acquire $1 billion in retail properties during the next three to five years.

Joint venture partner Daniel Stern tells GlobeSt.com that Farmington Hills-based Grand Sakwa Properties Inc. and West Bloomfield-based Lormax Stern Development Co. have been partners in individual retail properties for more than 10 years. “We decided to pool our resources and strengths for this particular fund,” he says.

Executives heading the joint venture will acquire existing retail properties throughout the country, but “will focus mostly on turnaround opportunities” similar to those completed at other malls. For example, after acquiring the 650,000-sf Frandor Mall in Lansing, the joint venture turned the mall into a power center and raised occupancy from 75% to 98%. Stern says the joint venture already has several purchase agreements in place but could not yet name the properties.

The companies have entered into a relationship with KeyBank Real Estate Capital Private Equity Group, which will evaluate and provide financing for property acquisition. “These developers have repeatedly demonstrated an ability to take properties and rebuild and remarket them for increased efficiency and community satisfaction,” says Dan Walsh, managing director, KeyBank Real Estate Capital.

The companies currently have 2.3 million sf of retail properties under construction, including Heritage Park in Grand Blanc, Heritage Village in Warren, Independence Marketplace in Allen Park and new construction at M-59 and Adams Road in Rochester Hills. The company also has an additional 1.1 million sf of projects in development for 2007.

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