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Frank Lowy Hands Over the Reins at Westfield Group

The Westfield Group announced a number of changes to its board and management, including a decision by Executive Chairman Frank Lowy AC, supported by the board, to assume the role of Non-executive Chairman, as well as the appointment of Peter Lowy and Steven Lowy as joint CEOs.

Other changes are:

  • David Lowy and David Gonski, having served on the Westfield board for 34 years and 25 years respectively, do not wish to seek re-election at the next annual general meeting, which will be held on May 25, 2011.
  • Brian Schwartz has been appointed as deputy chairman. Shwartz has served on the Westfield board since 2009 and is currently chairman of IAG and a director of Brambles. He is a former chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young and a former chief executive of Investec Bank.
  • CFO Peter Allen is being proposed as a new director. Allen will stand for election at the upcoming annual general meeting and has the endorsement of the group's board. He has been a senior executive with Westfield for 15 years, the past six as CFO.

Frank Lowy said the changes represented a further step in the evolution of the firm and its board which began more than a decade ago.

Over the past three years a number of new directors have joined the board including John McFarlane, Professor Judith Sloan and Lord Peter Goldsmith in 2008, Schwartz in 2009 and Mark Johnson in 2010.

The current country heads of the Group, Bob Jordan, managing director Australia/N.Z., Michael Gutman, managing director U.K./Europe, and John Widdup, COO U.S., will continue in their roles, with Gutman also assuming responsibility for the development of business in new international markets.

"All of this demonstrates a remarkable level of stability for a large, global organization and the changes announced today continue that stability, with ongoing commitment from the Lowy family, renewal of the board and the appointment of our CFO to the board," Frank Lowy said in a statement. "While Westfield has always been an entrepreneurial company with the ability to move quickly to seize new opportunities or react to market conditions, our approach to succession planning has been consistent and orderly with the leadership of the Group increasingly shared more widely among the senior executive team."

Peter and Steven Lowy have served the company for 28 and 24 years respectively. Both held operational management roles with the company early in their careers with Peter starting as assistant treasurer in 1983 and Steven as manager of Garden State Plaza shopping centre in New Jersey in 1987. Both then spent time in leadership positions in operations, development and finance before progressing to more senior country head roles and then joint group managing directors.

LaRue to Assume Leadership at Forest City Enterprises

Forest City Enterprises Inc. appointed David J. LaRue as president and CEO, effective June 10. LaRue will replace Charles A. Ratner, who will become chairman of the board.

Concurrent with the CEO succession, current co-chairmen Albert B. Ratner and Samuel H. Miller will each become co-chairman emeritus and will no longer serve on the board. Both will remain active in their respective areas of the business.

LaRue will be the first chief executive in Forest City's 90-year history, including 50 years as a publicly traded company, who is not related to the founding family.

"David is the right leader at the right time for Forest City," Ratner said in a statement. "We know that in our business, family is more about shared values than about lineage. All of our senior executives, including family members in senior positions who will report to David, are enthusiastic and excited to have an experienced leader of his caliber as our incoming chief executive. The entire family remains deeply committed to Forest City's future growth and success."

LaRue currently serves as executive vice president and COO of the commercial group with the company. In March, 2010, he became executive vice president and chief operating officer at the corporate level, with companywide responsibility for all real estate operations. He has been with Forest City Enterprises for 25 years.

The changes are part of the company’s succession planning process and will be effective following Forest City's annual meeting of shareholders on June 10, 2011.

GE Capital Names New CEO for its Real Estate Division

GE Capital Real Estate appointed Mark Begor as president and CEO. Margaret Keane will replace Begor as president and CEO of GE Capital’s U.S. consumer retail finance business.

Begor has been with GE Capital for 31 years. In his new position, he will be responsible for the real estate division and will also continue to have responsibility for the firm’s restructuring operations businesses. Begor succeeds Ron Pressman, who has led GE Capital Real Estate since 2007.

“Mark’s extensive GE leadership experience; deep financial, operational, and business development skills; and, in particular his financial services experience of managing through cycles, will serve him well leading the real estate team,” said Mike Neal, GE vice chairman, capital chairman and CEO, in a statement.

Margaret Keane, who will replace Begor in the consumer retail finance post, has been with GE for 15 years.

Thompson National Appoints Wolford as CFO

Thompson National Properties LLC hired James R. Wolford as executive vice president and CFO. He has also been appointed as CFO, treasurer and secretary of TNP Strategic Retail Trust.

Prior to joining Thompson National Properties, Wolford served as CFO with Pacific Office Properties. While there, he eliminated more than $1 million in annual corporate expenses, successfully negotiated a $125 million credit facility and helped file a $350 million secondary offering.

“Jim brings a wealth of financing, accounting and real estate experience built over his impressive 30-year career,” said Christopher Lal, executive vice president and general counsel with TNP. “He is an excellent addition to the executive team.”

Indianapolis, Marion County Approve Mixed-Use Complex

The City-County Council of Indianapolis and Marion County approved a financing package for Buckingham Cos. to develop North of South, a mixed-use development in downtown Indianapolis. The project will include 320 luxury apartments, 40,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, a 75,000-square-foot YMCA and a Dolce hotel.

According to the terms of the financing, the City will provide an $86 million credit enhancement to the developer, while the city and state will also commit up to $15 million for necessary infrastructure upgrades. The capital will be raised though bond issuance, with the revenue generated by the development then being used to repay the costs. An initial study of the project’s anticipated economic impact estimates that Indianapolis will receive $1.7 million in revenue.

Gramor Development Plans Progress Ridge TownSquare Opening

Gramor Development continues work on Progress Ridge TownSquare, a $60 million, 325,000-square-foot mixed-use center in Beaverton, Ore. The center is scheduled to open in September 2011. Tenants at the property will include Big Al’s Family Bowling and Entertainment Center, New Seasons Market and Cinetopia, among others.

The project was financed with a $45 million loan from U.S. Bank, with Gramor and its partners contributing $15 million in private equity.

Construction Starts on Pavilion Crossings

Michael Collard Properties started construction on Pavilion Crossings, a 68,400-square-foot shopping center in Riverview, Fla. The center is located adjacent to the entrance to a 500-home residential community and will be anchored by a Publix Supermarket. Michael Collard plans to open the property in November 2011.

TJX Hires GA Keen Realty to Dispose of AJ Wright Sites

TJX Cos. Inc. appointed GA Keen Realty Advisors, a division of Great American Group, to market and dispose of 20 former AJ Wright sites throughout the country. The sites range from 18,577 square feet to 30,152 square feet and are located in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia.

Shopping Center Group Gets Three Leasing Assignments

The Shopping Center Group has been appointed as the exclusive leasing agent for London Square in Miami, Short Pump Station in Richmond, Va. and The Avenue Murfreesboro in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

London Square is a 300,000-square-foot regional power center in a well-established trade area in southwest Dade County. Tenants at the property include TJ Maxx/HomeGoods, Ross Dress for Less and Dollar Tree, among others.

Short Pump Station is an 86,000-square-foot shopping center anchored by Trader’s Joe. Other tenants at the property include ULTA, Petco, The Vitamin Shoppe and Five Below.

The Avenue Murfreesboro is an 810,000-square-foot open-air center anchored by Belk. Other tenants include Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Linens & More for Less, Michaels, Old Navy, Petco and World Market.

Regency Starts Renovation at Beckett Commons

Regency Centers started work on the renovation of Beckett Commons, a 121,316-square-foot neighborhood shopping center in West Chester, Ohio. The project will include converting vacant space into six additional side shops, a new exterior façade and awnings, upgraded signage, a new roof and new HVAC units.

The company also signed leases with three new retailers totaling 16,708 square feet. The stores, which will open in the spring, include a 6,300-square-foot Advance Auto Parts, a 5,204-square-foot Plato’s Closet and a 5,204-square-foot Once Upon a Child.

Regency also signed a lease with Michaels for a 30,605-square-foot store at Deer Springs Town Center in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The retailer plans to open in the summer of 2011. Tami Lord, of Legend Retail Group, represented Michaels in the transaction. Michael Gleason, of ROI Commercial Real Estate Inc. , represented Regency.

Cassidy Turley CRE Appoints New President and CEO

Cassidy Turley BRE Commercial appointed Daniel T. Broderick as president and CEO. Broderick will serve on the company’s board of directors and will be instrumental in driving its strategic initiatives and growth strategies, including building a presence in Orange County and the Inland Empire.

Prior to joining Cassidy Turley, Broderick served as senior vice president in the sales division at Eastdil Secured. During his tenure there, his team closed transactions valued at more than $8 billion.

Cassidy Turley also hired Terry Frassetto as senior vice president of property management in its Somerset, N.J. office. In his new position, Frassetto will be responsible for managing, leading and developing the firm’s New Jersey property management division. He has 22 years of experience in the industry and previously oversaw property management for Cassidy Turley’s D.C. and Baltimore regions.

Savills Opens Two New Offices, Hires Three Execs

Savills opened a new West Coast office in Los Angeles and an office in downtown Washington, D.C. In a related move, the company hired Robert Stamm, Brandon McMenomy and Joel Cohen, formerly of CB Richard Ellis.

In his new position, Stamm will lead the Los Angeles office with the help of McMenomy. Cohen will lead the Washington, D.C. office. Previously, Stamm and Cohen led CBRE’s global property advisor team. McMenomy was responsible for developing CBRE’s U.S. principal/brokerage network across the country.

A&K to Serve as Contractor for Kentucky Oaks Mall Renovation

Cafaro Co. appointed A&K Construction as general contractor for the renovation of Kentucky Oaks Mall in Paducah, Ky. The project will include new entrance features, ceiling treatments, new skylights, upgraded flooring, energy efficient lighting and HVAC systems and modernized public restrooms.

Time Equities Brings Occupancy at Southgate Shopping Center to 82 Percent

Time Equities Inc. completed leases totaling 96,033 square feet at Southgate Shopping Center in Augusta, Ga. The leases brought the center’s occupancy to 82 percent.

The transactions included:

  • Rose’s, a division of Variety Wholesaler’s Inc., signed a 50,349-square-foot lease; Dollar Tree signed a 10,051-square-foot lease. Bryon Brown, of The Keith Corp., represented the tenant in the deal.
  • Shoe Department signed a 9,191-square-foot lease
  • Rainbow signed a 7,516-square-foot lease.

Ami Ziff, director of national retail with Time Equities, represented the landlord in all of the transactions. The company acquired Southgate Shopping Center in May 2008.

Regal Entertainment to Open Multiplex at West Oaks Mall in Texas

Regal Entertainment Group signed a deal with the joint venture of Square Mile Capital Management and Pacific Retail Capital Partners to open a 14-screen multiplex at the West Oaks Mall in West Houston, Texas. Construction on the theater will start this spring, with opening projected for the fall of 2012.

R.J. Brunelli Signs Leases Throughout New Jersey

Other transactions included:

  • A lease for Wawa for a two-acre site in Eatontown. John Lenaz, sales associate, negotiated the deal.
  • A lease for Deal$ for an 18,200-square-foot space at Bloomfield Plaza in Bloomfield. Danielle Brunelli-Albrecht represented the tenant in the deal.
  • A lease for Monster Mini Golf for an 11,200-square-foot store at Union 22 Town Shopping Center in Union. Ron DeLuca, vice president of tenant representation, represented Monster Mini Golf.
  • Three leases for sites in Middlesex, Union and Bergen counties for Muscle Maker Grill. John Lenaz and Brunelli Albrecht negotiated these transactions.

Other Notable News

Grosvenor Americas appointed James E. Hyman to its board of directors in a non-executive role. Hyman has more than 25 years of experience in finance, operations, mergers and acquisitions. Prior to its sale in 2010, he served as chairman, president, CEO and director of Cornell Cos. Inc.

Grubb & Ellis Co. hired Michael Dahmer as senior vice president of its retail group. Dahmer, formerly principal of RetailWorks, will be joined by his entire team in the company’s Atlanta office, including Michael Woodruff and Kellie Scrogum. Woodruff will serve as senior associate and Scrogum as associate.

Edens & Avant promoted Carol Hall to vice president of portfolio management. In her new position, Hall will be responsible for delivering of technology-enables processes and analytical tools to the investment management, property management and leasing teams. She has been with Edens & Avant since 2005. The firm also promoted John Cocker to vice president of investment management. In his new position, Cocker will be responsible for directing the daily activities of Edens & Avant’s property portfolio in the Washington, D.C. metro area., as well as for directing acquisition and disposition activity in the Mid-Atlantic region. Cocker has been with Edens & Avant since 2006.

Cohen Financial hired Brian Cooley as vice president of capital markets in the company’s Sacramento office. Prior to joining Cohen Financial, Cooley served as capital markets producer with Mason McDuffie Mortgage/INTERVEST.

CPEX Real Estate Services promoted Eric Altschul to managing director of leasing. Altschul has been with CPEX since 2008. Previously, he served as associate director. CPEX also promoted Ryan Condren to managing director with its leasing team. Condren has been with CPEX since 2008. He was previously an associate director.

Allianz Real Estate of America hired Eric Bergwall as managing director. Prior to joining Allianz, Bergwall worked in the debt origination and equity acquisition department at Orix Capital Markets.

Woolbright Development appointed Geoff Higginbotham as director of accounting. Higginbotham has 15 years of experience in financial accounting. Previously, he served as corporate controller with Turnberry Associates.

Winoker Realty hired Kristy Park, Stephen DeFlorio and Michael Hight as associate brokers. Previously, Park served as a business banking officer with Citibank, DeFlorio worked as a project coordinator with North East Service Interiors and Hight was a tenant representative with Cushman & Wakefield.

CB Richard Ellis hired Anna Zilberberg as associate with its Miami landlord representation team. In her new position, she will be responsible for marketing support, property tours, reports, surveys and market research.

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