CHICAGO-General Growth Properties Inc. reported many record highs during its third quarter 2007 report recently, including an increase in core FFO to $237.8 million, or 80 cents per fully diluted share, as compared with last year’s third quarter result of $186.8 million or 63 cents per share. The company also reported a retail center occupancy level of 93.2% of its 200-million-sf portfolio as of Sept. 30, and sales per sf at $461.

“I’m pleased to tell you that our retail business is performing at a high level,” said chairman and CEO John Bucksbaum during a conference call about the report. “Our new rents continue to increase as demand for quality remains high. We’ve completed new and renewal leases for 6.3 million sf of space in the year, 13% higher than the first nine months of 2006. I’m not so naïve to say that everything is perfect, we expect to see a softening in certain retail sectors, but not so much that it should change retailers’ expansion plans by any degree.”

And any softening threats won’t change the company’s expansion plans too much, said GGP executives. Bucksbaum said there are 60 retail redevelopment projects worth $1 billion now in the pipeline, and 16 new developments planned or under construction pegged at $2 billion in investment.

Bob Michaels, president and COO, said during the call that the company expects to reach record occupancy at the end of the year. “We do expect some store closings in the first quarter, but those closings were anticipated, and those spaces have already been re-leased,” he said. He said there will be three mall expansions finished this month, including Augusta Mall in Augusta, GA and Lifestyle Village in Portland, OR. There are also a few projects planned for completion in the first quarter, he said, including the 340,000-sf Shops at the Venetian Hotel and the 100,000-sf Vista Commons retail center, both in Las Vegas, as well as the 750,000-sf River Crossing center in Macon, GA, a joint venture with Jim Wilson and Associates. The company currently owns or manages 200 malls in 45 states.

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