The 45-year-old firm, headed by Ronald Rubin, sold its long-held multifamily residential properties in 2003 to concentrate on adding to its already significant retail holdings. That year, it acquired six shopping malls from the former Rouse Co., of Baltimore, and 26 retail centers in its merger with Crown American Realty Trust.
It has since sold five of the six small-market centers from the Crown acquisition. The sixth, in Frackville, Pa., remains for sale.
The Southeastern expansion is an important part of the company's strategic plan, "but I don't want to give the impression that we're moving away from the Mid-Atlantic. We have a huge commitment here," vice chairman Jonathan Weller said.
In the Philadelphia area, the firm has retained the Jerde Partnership, a Venice, Calif., architectural firm noted for creating high-profile retail and entertainment destinations, to help plan improvements at its Cherry Hill and Plymouth Meeting Malls, Weller said.
Both malls were acquired from Rouse in 2003.
"We're excited. Jerde has given us a whole new way to look at properties. They did the retail and a lot of design work on the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Their projects have tremendous eye appeal," Weller said.
The mall acquired yesterday serves Gadsden, which is 75 miles northeast of Birmingham on the interstate to Chattanooga, Tenn. It serves a population of 167,000 within a 20-mile radius.
It is the second PREIT acquisition from Colonial Properties Trust, of Birmingham. The first, late last year, was Fashion Square in Orlando, Fla.
PREIT now has two malls in Alabama, two in Virginia, and one each in Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina. Overall, the company owns 33 million square feet of retail space in 12 states - 38 shopping malls and 13 other centers.
Contact staff writer Henry J. Holcomb at 215-854-2614 or email@example.com.