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Blackstone to Buy 15 Shopping Centers for $321 Million

July 18 (Bloomberg) -- A Blackstone Group LP real estate fund agreed to buy a portfolio of neighborhood retail centers in seven U.S. states from Regency Centers Corp. for $321 million.

The 15 properties will be bought by an affiliate of Blackstone Real Estate Partners VII in a transaction that’s scheduled for completion July 25, Regency said today in a statement. The shopping centers, located in California, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, are 90 percent leased, according to the Jacksonville, Florida-based landlord.

Blackstone, based in New York, is adding retail properties as rents and occupancies rise. Shopping-center vacancies dropped to 10.8 percent in the three months ended June 30, down from 11 percent a year earlier and their second consecutive decline, according to Reis Inc. Effective rents, or what’s paid after any landlord discounts, averaged $16.55 a square foot, up from $16.49 a year earlier, the data provider said.

Regency plans to use proceeds from the sale to invest in “dominant, grocery-anchored shopping centers located in target markets with excellent prospects for growth,” Chief Executive Officer Hap Stein said in the statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Louis in Chicago at blouis1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net

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