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WHITEHALL, PA-Construction of a 110,000-sf lifestyle center expansion has begun at Lehigh Valley Mall. It will accommodate approximately 20 new retail and restaurant tenants, taking the regional mall’s total tenant roster to more than 150 and overall space to nearly 1.2 million sf. The existing space is also undergoing a major renovation.

The owner is a joint venture between Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust and Simon Property Group Inc., which is headquartered in Indianapolis. King of Prussia-based Kravco Simon Co., the Simon division that manages the property, is also managing the redevelopment.

A PREIT spokeswoman tells GlobeSt.com the full investment of $40 million is split 50/50 between PREIT and Simon. The expansion and renovation are scheduled for completion in August 2007. She says the new addition is “highly preleased.”

A 30,000-sf Barnes & Noble is the largest of the added tenants. Others include Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft, Sephora, Coach, White House/Black Market, Sharper Image, Chico’s, Soma, Coldwater Creek and Piazza Di Giorgio. Entrances and restrooms are being remodeled throughout the mall along with the installation of new lighting, elevators and escalators.

As of June 30, the average base rent at the mall was $32.01 per sf, and sales per sf averaged $489, a 6% increase compared with the previous year. The mall. built in 1976, had a mid-year occupancy of 95.3%, according to PREIT’s second-quarter report.

J.C. Penney, Macy’s and a new Boscov’s currently anchor the mall, which is located at the intersection of US Route. 22 and MacArthur Road near Allentown. The expansion will be added between Penney’s and Macy’s on the MacArthur Road side of the property.

“This redevelopment will solidify the property’s preeminent position in the marketplace,” says Joseph F. Coradino, president of PREIT Services LLC and PREIT Rubin Inc., in a statement. “We strongly believe the changes to this mall will meet the growing Lehigh Valley Mall area and its affluent shopper base by delivering a better assortment of stores and more customer amenities.” Mark Gray, Simon’s VP of development, says the addition will provide a fresh look and feel.

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