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by Tony Illia

General Growth Properties, owner of five major Las Vegas shopping malls, recently signed 20 new tenants combining for 62,561 square feet of store space. The news suggests a strengthening recovery for the company that emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November.

The leasing-activity uptick comes as the stock price for Chicago-based General Growth is climbing. Shares of General Growth, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol GGP, closed Feb. 8 at $15.30. The price has risen 23.8 percent since July 6, when General Growth closed at $12.36.

“The last couple of years were pretty challenging for everybody, but retailers are investing dollars to be here,” said General Growth Senior Vice President Dan Sheridan, who oversees the six-state southwest region consisting of 45 shopping centers, with residential and office space. “Retail sales at our local properties were up 10 percent last year over 2009, and we remain optimistic the upward trend will continue in 2011.”

General Growth has 3 million square feet of shops, restaurants and entertainment space on the Strip that account for 60 percent of the company’s local retail portfolio. General Growth counts Fashion Show, the Shoppes at Palazzo and the Grand Canal Shoppes among its holdings. General Growth’s new additions reflect a mix of high- and low-end consumer goods, including Oakley and Levi, Ecco, Superdry and Zumiez.

“Leasing activity at all General Growth Property centers in Las Vegas, particularly Fashion Show,” General Growth Vice President Laurie Paquette said. “It is a direct reflection of increasing consumer confidence and retailers’ response to that improvement, with many first-to-the-market retailers to the city,”

Statewide sales climbed 2.2 percent in October, the most recent month available, from a year ago to $3.14 billion, the Nevada Department of Taxation reported. Clark County sales accelerated 2.6 percent to $2.3 billion. In Clark County, durable consumer goods — including furniture and furnishings store and electronics and appliance stores — surpassed sales from October a year ago.

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