(For more retail coverage, click GlobeSt.com/RETAIL.)

POCONO MANOR, PA-CBL & Associates Properties Inc. has entered into a 50/50 joint-venture agreement with Matzel Development to develop, own and manage the planned 616,000-sf retail village component of Pocono Manor Resort & Casino. The deal is contingent on Matzel’s receipt of one of the state’s casino licenses designated for a resort, which is expected to be determined by the end of this year.

If Matzel doesn’t obtain a gaming license, “we’ll re-evaluate our participation at that time,” a CBL spokeswoman tells GlobeSt.com. No preleasing has yet taken place. “It will be a combination of restaurants and retail,” the spokeswoman says, “and we have relationships with national companies.” She declined to describe potential tenant targets and adds, “we don’t disclose asking rental rates.” Nor would she provide an estimated construction cost for the retail component. No date is set for groundbreaking, but she reiterates that the $1.4-billion resort and casino project has scheduled a 2008 opening.

In a statement, Stephen Lebovitz, CBL’s president, welcomed working with the development team “as they seek a gaming license.” The retail village, he says, “will consist of upscale specialty shops [that] truly complement the hotel and casino elements of the proposed project.” CBL, which is based in Chattanooga, TN, currently owns and manages four malls in Pennsylvania, including Westmoreland and Monroeville malls near Pittsburgh, Stroud Mall in Stroudsburg, and York Galleria in York.

Greg Matzel, who heads Matzel, says he chose CBL, “based on their leadership role in the retail industry.” He notes that it’s a public company with experience in large-scale properties.

Matzel, based in Marshalls Creek, acquired the 3,000-acre Pocono Manor Inn & Golf Resort for an undisclosed price just weeks before the deadline for gaming license applications. The opening phase of the property’s redevelopment includes renovation of the inn and construction of a one-million-sf hotel and casino complex in addition to the retail village. A second phase, estimated to cost another $1.5 billion, is planned for completion within 10 years and include up to 1,500 residential units along with more restaurants and amenities. For previous coverage, click here.

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