SANTA MONICA, CA-The Macerich Co. is assessing renovation opportunities at the 10 centers it owns where it is buying back 11 spaces from Federated Department Stores. The deal, announced earlier this month, is costing the REIT between $50 per sf and $60 per sf, executives revealed during their quarterly conference call.

However, the total investment in the properties it is renovating could eventually come in around $1 billion, management says. At the 11 vacated stores, about six would be replaced by other department stores, three to four by entertainment or lifestyle wings and the remainder by “major densification opportunities” like mixed-use additions, said Arthur Coppola, the company’s president and chief executive officer.

The first renovation will likely take place at the Oaks, in Thousand Oaks, CA, a 1.1-million-sf center where Macerich is buying back a Macy’s Women store and a Robinsons-May unit. The next asset that the company could focus on is the 560,685-sf Santa Monica (CA) Place, where the company is taking back a Robinsons-May. That enclosed center will be completely redeveloped and made partially open air, Coppola said.

In all, the centers being redeveloped due to the recapturing of Federated space have average sales per sf of $500. The deal also gives the company a total of 120 to 140 acres of developable land adjacent to the department-store sites. Each of the properties will be redeveloped in different ways, Coppola said.

Redevelopment opportunities management is exploring other than the Federated replacements include adding mixed-use components to the 2.3-million-sf Tysons Corner Center, in McLean, VA; the 608,976-sf Biltmore Fashion Park, in Phoenix; and the 2.1-million-sf Scottsdale (AZ) Fashion Square.

When asked during the conference call about exploring international opportunities like many of Macerich’s peers’ mall REITs, Coppola said there is enough on the company’s plate domestically. “It would be hard for me to imagine duplicating those kinds of opportunities have the same risk/reward ratio we have,” he said.

During its first quarter, which ended March 31, occupancy rates at Macerich centers increased to 92.6%, up from 92.2% during the same year-ago period. FFO jumped to $90.1 million, up from $76 million; and same-center sales rose 4.8%, with Arizona coming in as the company’s strongest-performing region.

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