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ATLANTA-Locally based Cousins Properties Inc. has made a few changes to its executive lineup. Dan DuPree has been named vice chairman of the company after serving as president and COO since 2007. Taking his place is Larry Gellerstedt, who previously served as executive vice president and chief development officer for Cousins.

In his new role as vice chairman, DuPree will focus on developing joint ventures, identifying distressed opportunities and overseeing the company’s 4.7 million-square-foot retail portfolio—no small task, given that last week GlobeSt.com reported the firm was bracing for a challenging 2009 in terms of retail leasing. Cousins also confirmed during the company’s latest earnings call that executives at the REIT are actively on the look out for distressed opportunities, but have not yet found any that meet their standards.

“Nobody knows what the government is going to do so nobody is willing to do anything until they get some clear signals from the government,” Cousins CEO Thomas Bell told analysts during the call. “And since the signals have been changing about every 30 days, it’s hard for them to really commit to anything.”

Dupree has been with Cousins since he sold New Market Development Co. Ltd., a firm he founded, to the REIT in 1992. Gellerstedt has been with Cousins since the company acquired his firm, The Gellerstedt Group, in 2005, and previously worked at the Integral Group, American Business Products and Beers Construction Co.

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