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(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of Real EstateFlorida.)

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL-Weingarten Realty Investors has closed on a 23-acre site to be developed into a theater-anchored shopping center called Epic Village at St. Augustine. The site is set to be developed jointly with St. Augustine Retail Holdings LLC with a planned spring 2009 opening..

A 52,000-sf, 16-screen Epic Theatre featuring stadium seating with Dolby Digital Sound, party rooms and gourmet refreshments will anchor the project. The theater will be surrounded by 17,896 sf of retail space emphasizing family entertainment with four outparcels.

“We thrive to create family-friendly shopping centers with our target anchors,” Lynn Dehlinger, regional director of new development for Weingarten Realty, tells GlobeSt.com. The company is currently talking with several restaurants and fast-food chains, and has one lease signed that it has not yet revealed, she says.

Epic Village is part of Houston-based Weingarten Realty’s expanding presence in Northeast Florida. The company, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary as a commercial real estate owner, manager and developer this year, plans to open its Palm Coast Landing at Town Center retail project in June and is working on 700,000-sf retail destination Lions Gate at World Commerce, also in St. Augustine. The city is known as the oldest in the nation, founded by the Spanish in 1565, and attracts approximately 6.5 million visitors a year.

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