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LONDON-Lend Lease is planning to buy a 50% stake in the Park Place retail development in Croydon, south London for ($177 million). The Australian developer has signed an agreement with Minerva to purchase the interest in the 85,000-sm shopping center development, which will include a department store, 14 major space users and more than 120 specialty shops.

Lend Lease’s retail and communities division chief executive, Ross Taylor, says the investment was part of the company’s strategy of growing its pipeline of UK retail opportunities. “We have a fantastic opportunity to reposition the retail offering in Croydon town center” to capture more traffic. A Lend Lease statement adds that the area surrounding the development had a high proportion of affluent 25-to-44 year-olds relative to the Greater London average.

The acquisition follows an agreement made in July last year under which Lend Lease would provide certain services and had an option to acquire an interest in the centre following completion. The purchase is conditional on site consolidation and securing a department store anchor for the proposed development. Construction is expected to start in early 2008, with completion expected in 2011.

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