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FARMINGTON HILLS, MI-A joint venture between locally based Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust and ING Clarion Partners LLC is now only $45 million away from reaching its $450 million acquisition goal, with the purchase of two shopping centers recently. The venture spent about $27 million for a 75,120-sf Cocoa Commons center in Cocoa, FL, and a 94,000-sf former Home Expo building in Troy, MI.

The venture was formed in late 2004, and has spent $405 million to grow to 14 properties, about 90% of the total partnership commitment. Cocoa Commons is at the southwest corner of State Road 524 and Industry Road, and the other property is next to the venture’s Troy Marketplace at the intersection of 16 Mile Road (Big Beaver) and Rochester Road. Officials with the venture say this property will be redeveloped for new tenants, some of which have been identified, but not released to the public.

The venture bought most of its centers in 2005, and only two in 2006; two Michigan centers comprising more than 398,000-sf of gross leasable area. Richard Smith, chief financial officer for Ramco-Gershenson, tells GlobeSt.com that it was a difficult market to buy assets in during 2006. “It’s been very competitive. Cap rates have been pretty consistent. We see 2007 as being just as competitive,” Smith says.

Dennis Gerhsenson, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement that the properties provide upside potential. “We have undertaken a number of repositioning initiatives…including the successful negotiation of several lease terminations, anchor expansions and the replacement of underperforming retailers with new tenants at significantly higher rental rates.” The company did not divulge the average asking rates at the two recently-purchased centers.

According to the venture deal, Ramco-Gershenson will manage the properties and will receive fees for acquisitions, financing, property management, leasing, construction management and disposition of assets. The company and Clarion have committed to contribute equity capital of $54 million and $126 million in the venture, respectively.

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