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by Christian Conte

Jacksonville, FL — The developer of the River City Marketplace is planning a new $30 million shopping center next to its Northside center near Jacksonville International Airport.

Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust tentatively expects to start construction on the 365,000-square-foot retail center called Parkway Shops by summer 2011, depending largely on a rebound of the economy, and the project could be completed as soon as spring 2012.

The company bought 153.5 acres at Interstate 95 and Airport Road in November, about 32 acres of which are usable and the rest are wetlands. Ed Eickhoff, vice president of development/redevelopment, said Ramco-Gershenson based its decision to buy the land on several factors, not the least of which is the success of its first project in Northeast Florida and the economic outlook of Jacksonville as a whole.

“The Jacksonville market is one of the few markets in the country poised for continued growth,” Eickhoff said. “As soon as it [the economy] turns, we’re ready.”

Although no anchor tenants have committed to leasing space at the Parkway Shops, Eickhoff said Ramco-Gershenson is already negotiating with several national retailers.

Ramco-Gershenson (NYSE: RPT), based in Farmington Hills, Mich., is a real estate investment trust that operates 89 community shopping centers, regional malls and single-tenant retailers throughout the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. The company owns 25 properties in Florida, and the closest to Jacksonville is in the Kissimmee area.

The 1 million-square-foot River City Marketplace is the company’s largest open-air new development project and includes more than 100 stores, including anchor tenants Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW), Gander Mountain Co. (Nasdaq: GMTN) and a 14-screen Hollywood Theater.

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