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

CLEVELAND-TIAA-CREF has entered into the $3-billion joint venture with Developers Diversified Realty to acquire a portfolio of 67 community centers. The assets are part of the 307-center Inland Retail Real Estate Trust portfolio that DDR is acquiring for $6.2 billion.

TIAA will contribute 85% of the equity toward the deal, with locally based DDR picking up the remainder. The firms aren’t planning on leverage exceeding 60% of the value of the properties. Most of the assets being picked up in the joint venture are in the Southeast.

“We have been looking to strategically increase our retail exposure, and we believe this purchase represents a unique opportunity to do so while focusing on opportunities for attractive rates of return for our investors,” says Tom Garbutt managing director and head of New York City-based TIAA-CREF’s Global Real Estate unit, in a statement.

DDR first announced the Inland deal late last month. A majority of the properties, 213, are neighborhood and community centers. The portfolio also includes 91 single-tenant assets as well as three lifestyle/hybrid centers.

Target, with 27 stores, is the largest tenant in the portfolio, taking up 8.5% of space. Wal-Mart, at 19 stores, occupies 8.1% of the centers. The grocer Publix has the most stores in the shopping centers, with 53.

After the deal, DDR will own about 800 shopping centers across the country. Locally-Inland is a subsidiary of the Inland Real Estate Group of Cos., which also owns the 140-center Inland Real Estate Corp. and the 60-property Inland Western Retail Real Estate Trust.

The DDR-Inland transaction is expected to close during next year’s first quarter. Following the closing of that deal, DDR executives plan to sell non-strategic assets in its portfolio, team with joint-venture partners that want to buy interests in some of the centers and increase occupancy rates in the newly acquired assets.

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