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CBL goes bi-coastal

CBL & Associates is following its manifest destiny with plans to develop its first West Coast mall. The Chattanooga-based REIT is joint venturing with MGHerring Group to build a 768,000-square-foot regional mall in California's Imperial Valley region. Dillard's, JCPenney, Robinsons-May and Sears will anchor the property. Construction costs will be $85 million, according to Legg Mason analyst David Fick.

CBL also announced plans to acquire four smaller-market regional malls from partnerships controlled by Faison Enterprises for $340 million, including $170 million in assumed debt. The deal -- which will close in two phases -- has a cap rate of 8.56 percent, according to Merrill Lynch analyst Steve Sakwa.

Of the four malls in the portfolio -- Cross Creek Mall, River Ridge Mall, Southpark Mall and Valley View Mall -- three are located in Virginia, with the fourth in North Carolina. May Co.'s Hecht's, JCPenney and Sears are common anchors for most of the newly acquired malls, which feature an aggregate $319 per square foot in annual sales and an average occupancy rate of 90 percent.

The Chattanooga-based REIT's same-store net operating income (NOI), growth increased 6.1 percent in the second quarter, though same-store sales were down 1.5 percent. Rent hikes, tenant reimbursements, specialty leasing and cost recovery improvements drove the NOI increase, Sakwa says. CBL's occupancy levels rose 130 basis points.

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