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Growing Up in Grand Style

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Take a closer look at the approximately 150 open-air lifestyle centers that exist today and you’ll see changes—some subtle, some not. Parking fields in many of the newer centers are by and large better located than they used to be. Main Streets have emerged as a hot new lifestyle layout with high customer appeal. Municipalities have bought into the lifestyle-center concept, helping to create true town centers from coast to coast. And mixing in additional uses such as residential and office have strengthened the lifestyle center to its very core.

The maturing of the format has brought with it a grander, and smarter, center. And with an increasingly selective shopper, grander and smarter could provide just the needed edge.

Of all the iterations of the lifestyle center over the last five or so years, the mixed-use version is showing the greatest promise of long-term success—at least in certain high-growth markets. Combining the glam of lifestyle-center tenants and architecture with office, residential and/or hospitality, mixed-use open-air centers create the kind of “New Urban” environment that communities are finding highly appealing—and are throwing their support behind. And as more communities lay out the welcome mat for lifestyle centers with added uses, the more incentives there are to build them.

While Floridian communities are among the loudest in their support of upscale open-air centers with all the accoutrements, plenty of cities from coast to coast are just as enthusiastic. On the following pages of Chain Store Age’s fourth-annual Lifestyle Center real estate supplement, you’ll see projects as far north as Massachusetts and Connecticut, west to California, east to Georgia and Virginia, plus, of course, centers in Florida, Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana, and plenty of states in between. Sizes range from a petite 100,000 sq. ft. to a massive 1 million-plus sq. ft., but all have that lifestyle appeal that makes them community favorites.

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Lampert, the Eli Manning of retail?

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. The New York Giants triumph over the highly favored New England Patriots in the Super Bowl earlier this month, has become an example of coming from the bottom to win it all. Sears Holdings chairman Edward Lampert is one of the latest to use the Giants win, even going as far to compare himself, and the leaders of his company, to quarterback Eli Manning.

The Giants analogy, and Eli Manning comparison, is applied mainly to the company’s Kmart division. In a letter to investors, posted on the Sears Holdings investor relations Web site, Lampert said during Kmart’s bankruptcy in 2002, the unit was “like an undrafted free agent who nobody thought had a chance to play in the big leagues.” Lampert went on to say, “Like Eli Manning, we know what it’s like to be underestimated and questioned, but we intend to keep working on our game to achieve our full potential.”

Sears Holdings reported net income of $426 million, or $3.17 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 2, compared with net income of $811 million, or $5.27 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 3, 2007. For the fiscal year ended Feb. 2, 2008, net income was $826 million, or $5.70 per diluted share compared with net income of $1.5 billion, or $9.58 per diluted share, for the fiscal year ended Feb. 3, 2007.

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Circuit City investor seeks to replace board

BY CSA STAFF

RICHMOND, Va. Circuit City Stores today acknowledged that it has received two proposals from shareholder Wattles Capital Management regarding its board of directors. Wattles holds approximately 6.5% of the outstanding shares of the company’s common stock.

Circuit City reported that Wattles proposed the idea of replacing the company’s Circuit City 12-member board of directors with its own nominees. Circuit City said its board of directors will review carefully the shareholder’s proposals and the qualifications of the nominees in accordance with its fiduciary duties, mindful that the proposal would give the shareholder absolute control of the entire board, which would be disproportionate to its relative ownership of the company’s shares.

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