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[IMGCAP(1)] FORT MYERS, FL-Several new tenants have been secured for the $60-million retail component of the mixed-use Forum at Fort Myers project with construction expected to begin this month on a Hyatt Place that is also part of the project.

Bed Bath & Beyond, Books-A-Million, Petco and Rack Room Shoes have been signed for the 480,000-sf power center and SunTrust Bank secured one of three outparcels for the project. Target, Best Buy, Ross Dress for Less, Staples and Home Depot have previously committed to the retail portion, also called the Forum at Fort Myers, which is being developed by Cincinnati-based North American Properties.

North American Properties vice president of development David Rattner tells GlobeSt.com that the center is expected to be completed in May or June. Target is expected to move into the space in July. With the additional leases signed, the project is currently 90% preleased. “We anticipate that the center will be substantially preleased prior to its opening,” Rattner says.

[IMGCAP(2)]The 760-acre mixed-use project, located to the east of Interstate 75 between Colonial Boulevard and State Road 82, will have one million sf of retail, 850,000 sf of office, 1,300 residential units and more than 500 hotel rooms. “Despite the regional slowdown in housing starts, retail amenities are still needed for the existing population in East Fort Myers and beyond,” says Rattner. “Our primary trade area east of Interstate 75 is one of the many underserved markets in this region with a strong population base and high incomes that justify another shopping destination.”

The Hyatt Place, located at the intersection of Interstate 75 and State Road 82, is expected to open in early 2009. Construction is ongoing on the six-story, 110-room Holiday Inn Express, situated at the intersection of Colonial and Forum boulevards, and is expected to open in November.

Phase one of Forum Corporate Park, under development by Songy Partners, is nearing completion with the first tenants expected to move in by the end of March.

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