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(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of Real Estate Florida.)

DELRAY BEACH, FL- Farmington Hills, MI-based Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust has contributed the 330,000-sf Plaza at Delray retail center to its joint venture with an investor advised by Chicago-based Heitman LLC. The total value of the property is just under $72 million.

This is the JV’s ninth property acquisition, and the fifth asset Ramco-Gershenson has contributed, according to a spokeswoman for the REIT. The $450-million JV was announced last summer, when Ramco-Gershenson sold two of its shopping centers in Kissimmee and Lakeland to the entity. The JV portfolio currently encompasses two million sf with an aggregate purchase price of $353 million. Executives at the trust were not immediately available for comment this week.

“The Plaza at Delray is a very successful shopping center in a densely populated, affluent trade area,” said Dennis Gershenson, president and CEO, in a press release. “This transaction allows us to maintain a 20% ownership interest in a very attractive center, pay off $43 million in permanent, company-level debt and generate approximately $23 million in net proceeds, which will be used to fund our previously announced business plan.”

The shopping center, located at the northwest corner of Federal Highway (US 1) and Linton Boulevard in Delray Beach, is 94% occupied with average rents of $15.44 per sf, according to a June 30 Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The center is anchored by Publix Super Markets, Linens ‘n Things, Books-A-Million, Marshalls, Staples and Regal Cinemas. The five-mile trade area around Delray Plaza has a population of 149,041 with an average household income of $77,666, according to Ramco-Gershenson.

According to an Aug. 7 SEC filing, the REIT had decided to “de-emphasize its acquisition program as a significant driver of growth. Acquisitions are planned to be more opportunistic in nature and the volume of these purchases will be substantially less than in 2007.” It added that it estimates needing $7 million to carry out this year’s planned acquisitions.

A spokesperson for the company says the de-emphasizing of acquisitions is a result of the current real estate market and where cap rates are right now. The company is still actively seeking properties through its joint ventures, and currently holds ownership interest in 89 properties in 13 states throughout the US.

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