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PALM SPRINGS, CA-Investec Real Estate Cos. of Santa Barbara, CA has broken ground on a new $17.5 million, 60,000-square-foot shopping center called Gene Autry Plaza that will include the first Smart & Final Extra! store to be built from the ground up. The new center is under way at the southeast corner of Ramon and Gene Autry Trail (Highway 111).

Smart & Final Extra! is a new store concept for the Los Angeles-based retail chain. The Extra! store will measure approximately 30,000 square feet, compared with 17,000 square feet for a typical Smart & Final location. The Extra! format features an expanded selection of products in categories like frozen foods, dairy, deli and grocery as well as basics like cereal, yogurt, bread and snacks.

In addition to the Smart & Final store, the new shopping center will include a Staples Office Superstore, a Starbucks, a Goody’s Café and 11,500 square feet of shop space. Gene Autry Plaza is part of a 60-acre retail development that includes a Wal-Mart Supercenter, Office Depot, PetSmart and Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse.

The new development project began as an alliance between a Palm Desert-based real estate developer, the Nicholas Group, and Michael Prieto of the Agua Caliente tribe. Investec is the owner of the leasehold interest.

Vice president Jim Slaught of Investec notes that the new center is adjacent to the Palm Springs International Airport at one of the Coachella Valley’s busiest intersections. It was designed by KKE Architects of Pasadena, CA, with GHA Cos. of Cathedral City, CA as general contractor. The addition of Gene Autry Plaza to Investec’s retail portfolio brings the company’s total to more than two million square feet of retail space in California, valued at more than $600 million.

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