Sales & acquisitions BPP Retail LLC, a co-investment entity between San Diego-based Burnham Pacific Properties Inc. and Sacramento, Calif.-based California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), recently purchased 12 retail centers from San Francisco-based AMB Property Corp. The centers, which sold for approximately $246 million, add about 2 million sq. ft. of space to the company's existing portfolio of over 11 million sq. ft.

The retail properties include: Applewood Village and Arapahoe Village, both in Denver; Brentwood Commons and Riverview Plaza, both in Chicago; Civic Center Plaza in Niles, Ill.; Five Points in Santa Barbara, Calif.; Pleasant Hill in San Francisco; First Colony Market, Westheimer Market and Woodway Collection, all in Houston; Rockford Road Plaza in Minneapolis; and Southwest Pavillion in Reno, Nev.

This acquisition is the second of three transactions to be completed by year's end, under which BPP Retail LLC has contracted to acquire 25 AMB-owned shopping centers, totaling 4.2 million sq. ft., for approximately $560 million. The final transaction includes Commons Memorial and Weslayan Plaza, both in Houston; Rancho San Diego in San Diego; and Totem Lakes Mall in Kirkland, Wash.

Los Angeles-based Westfield America Inc. recently acquired Palm Desert Town Center in Palm Desert, Calif., from San Diego-based TrizecHahn Corp. The purchase price for the 868,536 sq. ft. super-regional mall was $82 million. According to Westfield, the acquisition is consistent with the company's strategy of clustering and branding its properties in major metropolitan areas. Adding Palm Desert to its portfolio increases the number of centers the company owns in the greater Los Angeles market to eight, strengthens its leadership position in California and increases the company's overall ownership of centers to 38.

Palm Desert, which has been renamed Westfield Shoppingtown Palm Desert, is anchored by two Robinson's-May stores, Macy's, Macy's Men's and Home, and JCPenney. It also features 129 specialty stores. Plans are in the works to renovate and expand the center.

The Plaza, a 464,662 sq. ft. shopping mall in Greenville, N.C., has been sold to Birmingham, Ala.-based Colonial Properties Trust for $28.5 million. The seller was Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., which was represented by CB Richard Ellis, Los Angeles. The Plaza is anchored by Belk, JCPenney and Proffitt's.

Trammell Crow Co. and Granite Properties Inc., both based in Dallas, have purchased a 1.5 million sq. ft. portfolio of five shopping centers in three different states. The transaction, in excess of $100 million, includes community and grocery-anchored retail centers in Texas, Florida and Kentucky. The properties include First Colony Commons in Sugarland, Texas; Baybrook Square Shopping Center in Houston; Largo Mall in Tampa, Fla.; T.J. Maxx Plaza in Miami; and Tates Creek Centre in Lexington, Ky. All were purchased from Lincoln National Life Insurance Co., Fort Wayne, Ind.

This venture is the second between Trammell Crow and Granite Properties' strategic alliance, which began earlier this year with the hiring of Trammell Crow by Granite to assist in developing a shopping center in northwest Houston.

Cleveland-based Visconsi Cos. Ltd. has acquired Town & Country Shopping Center in Arlington Heights, Ill. The combination strip center and enclosed mall contains approximately 353,000 sq. ft. of retail space and is anchored by Dominick's supermarket, Walgreens, Marshalls, Best Buy, Service Merchandise, Cineplex Odeon and Lord & Taylor Clearance. The seller was Glenborough Realty Trust, San Mateo, Calif. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Corporate Mergers Two Chicago-area architectural companies have merged to form Otis Koglin Wilson. Otis Associates Inc. (OAI) joined its office, retail, residential, landscaping and planning strengths with the downtown location, retail and corpor ate interiors expertise of Koglin/Wilson Architects. OAI is known for its Village Green downtown center in Lincolnshire, Ill., as well as several Chicago office sites and residential developments. Koglin/Wilson is known in retail for its 415,000 sq. ft. IKEA flagship store in Schaumburg, Ill.; Woodfield Village Green, also in Schaumburg; a three-story retail building at North and Sheffield avenues in Chicago; and the addition and renovation of Hyde Park Shopping Center in Chicago. The newly formed company will have offices in the new Lincolnshire commercial center designed by OAI and in Chicago's landmark Inland Steel building.

Baltimore-based Prime Retail Inc. and The Athena Group LLC, New York, have reached an agreement to form a joint venture aimed at developing, owning and operating up to $500 million of factory outlet centers throughout Europe. Athena/Prime Retail Europe will be capitalized 80% by The Athena Group and 20% by Prime Retail. After each partner receives a pre-agreed minimum return on equity, the venture will allocate profits and distribute cash flow 60% to Athena and 40% to Prime Retail. The centers developed in Europe will be branded under the Prime Outlets name. (See related story, p. 20)

New Ventures Mount Laurel, N.J.-based Metro Commercial Real Estate Inc. has expanded its real estate services by creating a new subsidiary to develop and construct retail facilities for clients that don't have that capability. Metro Commercial Development Services LLC will handle the total development process from the initial feasibility review through approvals, design and construction. Philip J. Yurkow, who has 20 years of experience both as head of his own development and project management firm as well as for other firms, will lead the new subsidiary. Two shopping centers currently being handled by the new division are Davisville Center in Warminster, Pa., and Market Square at Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia.

Management Contracts The asset management division of San Diego-based Burnham Real Estate Services has added five retail properties to its Southern California portfolio. In San Diego County, Addison, Texas-based GE Capital Realty awarded Burnham Retail Group, a specialty industry group within Burnham Real Estate, the management and leasing contracts for four properties, totaling 460,839 sq. ft. They include Mesa Shopping Center featuring Lucky, Rite-Aid, McDonald's and Hollywood Video; Wiegand Plaza II, anchored by AMC Theatres, T.J. Maxx, PetCo and Beverages & More; Independence Square, featuring Ethan Allen, Hold It and Saddleback Patio Furniture; and Poway Plaza, anchored by Lucky, Wherehouse Records and Rite-Aid.

In addition, the company was awarded the management and leasing contract for Vista Palomar Park, a 41,900 sq. ft. retail complex currently under construction in Vista, Calif. It is owned by locally based Bill Burnett/Vista Palomar Park LLC.

Virginia Beach, Va.-based Divaris Real Estate Inc. recently added two enclosed malls to its retail-managed portfolio. Carrolltown Center in Eldersburg, Md., is a 333,450 sq. ft. center anchored by Kmart, Peebles, Rite-Aid, SuperFresh and a six-screen R/C Theatres complex. It is owned by Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Equity Investment Group. The other center is Winter Haven Mall, a 278,258 sq. ft. center anchored by Burdines in Winter Haven, Fla. It is owned by Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.

Chicago-based General Growth Properties Inc. has been appointed the new management and leasing agent for WestShore Plaza in Tampa, Fla. The 900,000 sq. ft. center is anchored by Burdines, Dillard's, JCPenney and Saks Fifth Avenue. Affiliates of Washington, D.C.-based Gros-venor International (Atlantic) Ltd. own the mall, which is currently being expanded.

Other Transactions The John Burnham & Co. real estate firm, San Diego, has changed its name to Burnham Real Estate Services. The new name reflects the firm's continuing commitment to providing a full range of real estate expertise to clients throughout Southern California.

L.J. Melody & Co., a Houston-based real estate investment firm, has opened an Indianapolis office. The move follows the company's goal to increase its commercial mortgage and real estate investment banking operations in the Midwest. L.J. Melody has 25 offices nationwide with a servicing and asset management portfolio totaling over $11 billion.

Cincinnati-based North American Properties recently opened a new regional office in Minneapolis. The office will focus on retail development in the Twin Cities as well as other major Midwest markets, including Chicago, Kansas City and St. Louis. Local developer Jay Scott has joined the company and will lead North American's expansion efforts in the area as vice president of development.