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FREEHOLD, NJ-The expansion currently under construction at Freehold Raceway Mall has its first announced tenant. As reported by GlobeSt.com, work on the expansion, a 100,000-sf open-air lifestyle center adjacent to the existing 1.4 million-sf mall, began earlier this year, and Borders Books has agreed to occupy about one-quarter of that expansion.

The Ann Arbor, MI-based Borders Group Inc. has signed a lease for 25,150 sf and will begin interior fit-out shortly with a November 2007 opening targeted. A Borders spokesman cited “consumer demographics, the strength of the co-tenants, traffic patterns, the availability of parking, visibility and the overall attractiveness,” for the decision to open a store in the Macerich Co.-owned property. Borders already operates a Waldenbooks within the mall proper, and has a Borders store not far away in Eatontown.

According to the Borders spokesman, the two-level store will feature a Seattle’s Best Coffee café. Also part of the plan are a Paperchase shop featuring items from the UK-based Paperchase Products, and a HotSpots unit, which allows Wi-Fi Internet access.

The new lifestyle center is under construction along the existing mall’s east side, between J.C. Penney and Sears, two of the asset’s five department store anchors. The site plan calls for between 13 and 15 stores in the three-building, “Main Street”-style center, which will include an area for community events. Macerich has declined to identify any additional tenant signings as yet, but sources say that deals with P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and the Cheesecake Factory will be announced soon.

Concurrent with the new construction, the original 17-year-old mall is getting a makeover. As reported by GlobeSt.com, Macerich in March launched a major interior renovation of the property, the first such effort since it opened. “With the current expansion under way, it was time to look at the interior of the center to see how we could make it more comfortable and pleasant,” says Frank Lucia, senior property manager for Macerich.

Freehold Raceway Mall moved into Macerich’s portfolio two years ago when that company bought it from original developer Wilmorite as part of a 13-property package carrying a price tag of $2.3 billion.

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