FARMINGTON HILLS, MI-Locally-based Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust announced today that it has closed on a new $31.3 million CMBS loan with J.P. Morgan secured by its West Oaks II shopping center in Novi, MI and its Spring Meadows Place center in Holland, OH. The $31.3 million financing represents a loan to value of approximately 60% for the two properties and has a 10-year term with a fixed interest rate of 6.5%.

Proceeds from the loan were used primarily to reduce borrowings on the company’s revolving credit facilities, the company said in a statement. “This loan is one of the first CMBS transactions to be completed this year and highlights that long-term, attractively-priced capital is available for quality assets in strong markets,” said Dennis Gershenson, president and CEO. “This new financing will improve our flexibility in executing our 2010 business plan.”

LIVONIA, MI-Centro Properties Group said a 40,000-square-foot Big Lots recently opened at the company’s Musicland Shopping Center, located at the intersection of Tech Center Drive and Plymouth Road. Centro was represented in-house by Robert Saggese.

CHICAGO-Karin Kraai has launched Forest Partners Real Estate LLC, a commercial real estate consulting practice. The firm provides services in the management and/or execution of the leasing and disposition process for understaffed corporate real estate departments, banks, commercial real estate advisory groups, and niche building owners. Consulting services will include developing and implementing strategies for OREO bank office asset portfolios that need to be repositioned and leased for a hold or disposition strategy; advisory groups working on receivership and sublease portfolios; distressed asset work-outs, and unique office leasing and marketing challenges. Forest Partners has also formed a strategic alliance with RE/Solutions (a partnership between Realogic and Siegel-Gallagher) which provides services and turn-around solutions for distressed real estate ranging from receivership, asset/property management and leasing, to asset dispositions. Kraai has almost 25 years of real estate experience, including stints as an executive at Merchandise Mart Properties and Jones Lang LaSalle.

CRYSTAL LAKE, IL- Inland Real Estate Corp. said its Regal Showplace shopping center is now 100% leased as a result of the recent 3,000-square-foot lease signing and store opening of Back to Bed, a Chicago-based mattress store with 50 locations around the Chicagoland area. In addition to Back to Bed, tenants at Regal Showplace include Regal Cinemas, 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment, Jameson’s Charhouse, Noodles & Company and T-Mobile. The 96,935-square-foot shopping center is at 912-5016 Northwest Hwy.

CRESTWOOD, IL-Burlington Coat Factory signed a lease for 70,000 square feet formerly occupied by Menards at the corner of Cicero Avenue and Calumet Sag Road. According to Richard Spinell, principal of Oakbrook Terrace, IL-based Mid-America Asset Management Inc., Burlington is expected to open in August 2010 and will co-tenant this 175,427-square-foot center with Kohl’s. Spinell and Mary Beth Menelli handled the lease on behalf of the landlord, with Brad Gershman of Gershman, Brown & Crowley representing the tenant.

CHICAGO-Diana’s Bananas, a chocolate-covered frozen bananas producer, is relocating from its prior location within the Kinzie corridor in the West Loop where it occupied 6,000 square feet. Paine/Wetzel-ONCOR International has completed a 30,529-square-foot industrial building acquisition on behalf of Diana’s at 2733 W. Harrison St. for $1.2 million. The building features three interior loading docks, one drive-in door, and immediate access to the Interstate 290 Expressway. Diana’s plans to build-out the facility with a high-end freezer/cooler system for its manufacturing operations. Michael D. Nelson and Mark A. Nelson with Paine/Wetzel represented Diana’s while Nick Saraceno with Camins Tomasz Kritt represented the building owner, Tomahawk Packaging.

ST. LOUIS-Pride of St. Louis Inc. is mobilizing the region’s union pension trustees and labor leadership to more fully leverage the already sizeable economic impact of its investable pension monies. The construction labor-management group will host an “Investment Summit” on April 12 to energize investment 100%, union-built projects. Three national financiers, who fund union-built projects and have assets totaling more than $9 billion, will meet with local labor pension trustees and major St. Louis development interests in an effort to infuse greater investment in job-creating projects locally. The event will be held at Carmine’s Steak House in Downtown St. Louis. The real estate investment trust entities that will attend the “Investment Summit” include: Washington D.C.-based Multi Employer Property Trust, a $4 billion fund that has invested more than $169.3 million in St. Louis-area projects; Washington D.C.-based AFL-CIO Building and Investment Trust, a $1.8-billion fund that has invested more than $87.5 million in St. Louis-area projects, including the FBI building and the Veterans Administration building downtown; and Washington D.C.-based Union Labor Life Insurance Co., whose $3.2 billion “J for Jobs” program has invested approximately $90 million in Missouri projects since it was formed in 1977. Pride, founded in 1972, is an acronym for Productivity and Responsibility Increase Development & Employment.

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