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BOSTON-Locally based Taurus Investment Holdings spent much of last year buying retail properties in its own back yard, but the real estate investment firm is demonstrating an ability to operate outside the area, as exemplified via the $42.9 million purchase of a 160,000 sf shopping center in suburban Ontario. Affiliate Taurus Canada Investments Ltd. secured the Cookstown Outlet Mall in Innisfil, completing its second Ontario acquisition in the past four months.

“We are really committed to the Canadian market,” Taurus president and CEO Peter Merrigan tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s doing better than the US right now and we think conditions are going to remain fairly stable.” Taurus has been in Canada since 2000 and now has nine projects in its portfolio. The firm is mulling fresh opportunities throughout the country, says Merrigan, but all investments made to date are in Ontario, including 111 Peter St., a 250,000-sf office building purchased in late 2007.

Located one hour north of Toronto at the confluence of Highways 89 and 400, Cookstown Outlet Mall is comprised of an enclosed shopping center and 125 undeveloped acres that can accommodate additional density. Cookstown is one of the highest profile and most successful outlet centers in Ontario, reports Taurus, a distinction enabled by the roster of top retailers such as Adidas, Levis, Liz Claiborne, Nine West, Samsonite and Tommy Hilfiger.

Despite Cookstown’s solid performance to date, Merrigan expresses hope returns can be improved through construction of another 160,000 sf on the vacant land and physical improvements to the existing space, plus a focused property management strategy.

Taurus made news in Boston last year by aggressively pursuing commercial properties in the Back Bay, especially on tony Newbury Street. Teamed primarily with Anglo Irish Bank Corp., Taurus now owns 21 buildings on the street, and Merrigan says the firm is eager to increase its inventory. “We’ll look at anything that comes available,” he says of the bid to create a critical mass on the internationally known shopping strip, which last year eclipsed $200 million of commercial sales. “It’s going well,” Merrigan says of the campaign to upgrade the Newbury Street assets and boost occupancy.

While still targeting Boston, Taurus is rapidly expanding its global platform, with deals being chased throughout Europe and both North and South America. Taurus is busy in Argentina, for example, and recently established a beachhead in Lima, Peru.

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