RTKL, ID8's South African center under construction Construction has begun on The Gateway Shopping Centre at Umhlanga New Town Centre, a 1.6 million sq. ft. project in Umhlanga Rocks, South Africa. Designed by RTKL and ID8, both of Baltimore, the project is slated for completion in September 2001. Durban, South Africa-based Johnson Murray Architects were the local designers.

The Gateway Shopping Centre at Umhlanga New Town Centre is an enclosed mall with five anchor tenants including a supermarket, multiplex cinema and family entertainment center. The project has three areas - the Promenade, The Palm Court and The Mall - to accommodate outdoor dining, specialty retail, entertainment and sidewalk retailing.

Foreign investments AFIRE in 8th annual investors survey Office buildings are the No. 1 choice of foreign investors in U.S. real estate, according to the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate's (AFIRE) eighth annual survey. Thirty-three percent of the survey's participants said they planned to increase their investment in this sector in 2000. The survey showed other real estate investment with retail ranked second, followed by multifamily, industrial and hotel properties, respectively.

The survey was conducted among the association's institutional members who together have more than $44.4 billion invested in U.S. real estate.

Seventy-seven percent of the respondents said that real estate opportunities in the United States were the same or better in 1999 than they were in 1998. Forty-seven percent said they planned to increase their investment in U.S. real estate in 2000, while 39% said they expected their levels of investment to remain the same.

LaSalle Investment sees Asian securitization trend emerging LaSalle Investment Management, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle, reports there is a real estate securities trend emerging in Asia. Studies reveal real estate securities are gaining favor in Asia as viable investment vehicles and platforms for domestic investors.

These are the findings of Todd A. Canter, vice president, LaSalle Investment Management and co-author of "The Effect of International Real Estate Securities on Portfolio Diversification," who recently made a presentation at the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore.

Canter cites three reasons forREITs emerging as a significant trend in Asia: liquidity, which enables investors to buy and sell quickly; security, which allows investors to hold tangible assets; and diversity, which offers opportunities to maximize returns while holding down risk.

LaSalle compared Asia Pacific real estate securities to equity investments and found that between 1984 and 1997 average annual returns favored real estate securities. Canter reported that securitized real estate is a"hot" topic in Singapore because of government plans to create a financial center there.

Bass Overseas Holdings enters agreement in Asian hotel deal Bass Overseas Holdings Ltd., a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Bass Hotels & Resorts, has entered into an agreement to purchase the share capital of the Pritzker family's Hale International Ltd., a subsidiary of Southern Pacific Hotels Corp. (SPHC). The $313.1 million transaction is comprised of 59 hotels owned, leased, managed or franchised by SPHC, and includes hotels in Australia, New Zealand, the Southern Pacific Islands and Asia.

The acquisition excludes the Trave-lodge business, which will continue to be operated by the Pritzker family's business interests.

Merrill Corp. opens London and Paris service centers St. Paul, Minn.-based Merrill Corp. has opened new service centers in the London and Paris financial districts. The London facility will support capital market clients around the world, while the Paris office will serve French and European clients. Both facilities will accommodate global transactions and cross-continental financing.

Hines Air Property formed for United Kingdom development Houston-based Hines has formed a subsidiary, Hines Air Property, to pursue projects in the United Kingdom. The company will focus on development near London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports but will expand that focus to airport office parks, air cargo distribution facilities and logistical facilities.

U.S., U.K. companies form Trinity Alliance The Garibaldi Group and Gale & Wentworth of the United States and the United Kingdom and King Sturge of the United Kingdom, Europe,China and Australia have formed Trinity Alliance, International Real Estate Advisors. The new company will provide a cross-Atlantic network of integrated services to U.S. and foreign corporations.

The new company will provide tenant representation, facilities and property management as well as acquisition and disposition representation. Service to the United Kingdom, Asia and Pacific Rim will be provided to U.S. and foreign clients. Conversely, it will offer corporations in overseas markets the ability to purchase U.S. properties.

Melbourne's Chadstone Centre expansion completed (slide) Chadstone Centre's 560,000 sq. ft. expansion has been completed and is open for business. The Gandel Group of Melbourne owns the 1.3 million sq. ft. center, and Baltimore-based RTKL masterplanned and designed the expansion. The Buchan Group of Melbourne was the architect.

Anchored by a 226,000 sq. ft. Myer and a 178,000 sq. ft. David Jones, the addition also includes 156,000 sq. ft. of additional international and lifestyle-oriented retailers. The new section of the mall consists of two levels, topped off by a curved glass roof.

S&P rates Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA Stand and Poor's (S&P) has given Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA) of Spain a rating of double-'A'- minus long-term and single 'A-l'-plus for short-term counterparty credit and certificate of deposit. In related rating action, S&P withdrew its counterparty credit ratings on BBV and Argentaria. The existing debt ratings on BBV and Argentaria, and their related entities, were transferred to BBVA and affirmed.

Latin American affiliates account for about 18% of BBVA's total assets, compared with about 28% for BBV alone. BBVA's strategy is to create a large banking group operating in southern Europe and Latin America.

Trendwest Resorts enters Australasian region Trendwest Resorts, a Redmond, Wash.-based timeshare company, has begun doing business in the Australasian region. Trendwest Resorts, South Pacific will develop, market and manage timeshare resorts in Australia and Fiji. The company hopes to commence sales in the first-quarter 2000.

Trendwest Resorts is currently developing 76 units in a timeshare resort on Denarau Island, Fiji, with the first stage of 38 units already delivered to the WorldMark Club. Hoping to acquire and develop resort locations on the Gold and Sunshine Coast of Australia, Trendwest has filled many of the senior management positions for the Australasian operations and expects to make further appointments during the next several months.

Latin America set for major take-off Several recent deals in Latin America seem to be casting a new eye on development in that global region, after years of neglect and the stigma of recession.

Dallas-based Staubach Co. has been appointed by Cisco Systems, the Internet networking giant, as its Latin American service provider. Staubach specializes in tenant representation.

VOA Associates, an Orlando-based architecture, planning and interior design firm, is working on three new projects in the region with a total value of about $100 million. The first is a $15 million, 80,000 sq. ft. Compensar Family Entertainment Center in Bogota, Colombia. Completion is scheduled for May of 2000.

Another project is the Rio Quente resort development, considered Brazil's largest, located about 200 miles from Brasilia. VOA is providing concept planning services to integrate the existing resort with a new water park, a new entertainment district and new hotels and residential developments.

Also in the works is a site feasibility study for a 5-acre urban entertainment center in the coastal community north of Vina del Mar, Chile. Plans call for a new entertainment center to join the existing timeshare and condominium resort.

And in late-October, Brazil Realty SA announced the formation of REIT Brazil, giving individual and institutional investors alike a chance to invest in large real estate projects in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city. The REIT, based on the JK Financial Center,which Brazil Realty is building in Sao Paulo, will sell shares in the project.

Showing its commitment to the region, Cushman & Wakefield, New York, recently opened new offices in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Santiago, Chile. "We have experienced an increased demand from multinationals to supply a full range of services throughout Central and South America, due to population growth and stronger local economies," says C&W executive managing director of international services John Coppedge.

All bets are to keep an eye on this region for much more activity.