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(Ian Ritter is national online editor for GlobeSt.com/RETAIL.)

NEW YORK CITY-The Prescott Group, a locally based investment bank, has formed a division that will focus on the acquisition of outlet retail centers. Called Aerial Preferred Retail Group, the division last month acquired six centers across the country from Horizon Group Properties, for $110.4 million.

Aerial is looking to double or triple the number of centers in its portfolio over the next 18 to 24 months, Susan L. Stupin, managing director at Prescott, reports. The division would even be interested in purchasing some assets from the Mills Corp., which is looking for buyers.

Some other likely sellers are individual property owners or large developers looking to shed assets from sizable portfolios, Stupin says. “We think it has been under-focused in the institutional-investment community,” she says of the outlet-center sector. “We think there’s a real growth opportunity at attractive prices levels for us.”

Aerial will also consider the acquisition of non-outlet shopping centers, Stupin continues. The division is looking for buys throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. The division, based in Williamsburg, VA, includes former McArthur Glen executives James S. Harris, who is Aerial’s president, and Donald. E. Chapman, executive vice president of the group.

The centers acquired so far, which were originally developed by the McArthur Glen Group, are in Tulare, CA; Laughlin, NV; Warrenton, MO; Medford, MN; Traverse City, MI; and Darien, GA. The centers include tenants such as Coach, Eddie Bauer and Nike and total just more than 1.3 million sf.

Aerial is re-branding its portfolio as “preferred outlets.” Management is looking to renovate and expand some of the properties as well as enhance the tenant mix, marketing and advertising programs at the assets.

Most recently Prescott acquired three recently completed rental townhome communities in Greenwich, CT from locally based developer Fareri & Associates for $50 million. Prescott currently is a preferred equity provider to RMS Construction, which is building 170 townhomes in its home base of Stamford, CT.

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