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CANTON, OH-Nassimi Realty has finished the second phase of the externalization effort at Canton Centre Mall, a more than $10 million effort to turn all stores into an outdoor property. The company bought the 433,500-square-foot indoor center, on Tuscarawas Street West, in 2004, and started the de-malling process early last year. “The process is moving forward nicely, despite the economic climate,” says company president Mike Nassimi.

He says tenants seem to appreciate the renovation, signing leases for four new stores. Nassimi says his company has a few other companies in negotiation for more square footage. “We’ve finished a 10,000-square-foot out-lot, and filled it up, we only have 1,500 square feet available there. By March-April, the front section of the center will have all the current stores facing to the outside, and then we’ll wrap around toward the J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart side,” Nassimi tells GlobeSt.com. His firm is completing a modernization program for the J.C. Penney, which has extended their lease by five years. The 200,000-square-foot Wal-Mart opened in 2005, shadow-anchoring the property.

New tenants include Deb Shops, DOTS, Hibbet Sports and Sally Beauty. A Verizon store will also join the center, and plans are underway for development of additional junior anchor stores and inline spaces for the remainder for the shopping center. “Probably by 2010, everyone will be moved to having an outside entrance,” Nassimi says. “We’re a little less than halfway done, but the areas that have been renovated are about 85% occupied.”

He says that his company’s entire portfolio of retail property in the Midwest and East Coast hasn’t seen a major setback yet, though he admits Ohio and Indiana were hurting before the recession. “Ohio has been hurting for the last few years, it’s not just an issue of the past few months. But we selected our centers for the long-term, we are dedicated to our properties,” Nassimi says.

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