First Guardian Group, a San Jose, Calif.-based commercial real estate firm, became an independently owned and operated franchise of Sperry Van Ness International. The firm will operate as Sperry Van Ness/First Guardian Group. It will specialize in investment sales, leasing, property management, commercial loans and investments in commercial, retail, multifamily, student housing, medical office and industrial buildings.

Over the course of its existence, First Guardian Group completed more than $450 million in transactions. It currently manages 4 million square feet of commercial space.

Paul Getty and Dinesh Gupta, co-founders of First Guardian, will serve as managing directors for the Sperry Van Ness/First Guardian team. Getty will focus on asset and property management and Gupta on TIC assets, portfolio management and dispositions. Eric Carlson will serve as senior advisor with the team.

“Our decision to partner with Sperry Van Ness was based on the strength of the organization’s national platform with more than 800 advisors across the U.S., which will help us compete for larger transactions and national accounts,” said Getty in a statement. “We are very optimistic about the new opportunities this merger will bring to our team in San Jose.”

Taubman Secures 20 New Tenants for City Creek Center in Utah

Taubman Centers Inc. announced a line-up of 20 new-to-market retailers at its City Creek Center, the 700,000-square-foot retail project under development in Salt Lake City. City Creek Center, the retail component of the larger mixed-use City Creek development, will open in March 2012.

The new to market retailers include 77kids, BCBG MAXAZRIA, Bose, Brooks Brothers/Brooks Brothers Women, Coach, Cotton On, The Limited, L’Occitane, Love Culture, LUSH, Michael Kors, N3L Optics, Pandora, Papyrus, Porsche Design, Swarovski, Texas de Brazil Churrascaria, Tiffany & Co., Tumi and Yankee Candle Company.

Taubman has already secured Macy’s and Nordstrom as anchors for the center.

The Block at Orange in California to be Rebranded as The Outlets at Orange

The Mills, a division of Simon Property Group, will rebrand the Block at Orange, an 800,000-square-foot center in Orange, Calif., as The Outlets at Orange to signify its distinction as the primary outlet and value retail destination in Orange County. Over the next 30 days, the center will get new exterior signage, a new Web Site, new brochures and other promotional materials. There will be also be a new entrance from the 22 Freeway to provide more convenient access to the property, new tower signage and renovated restrooms. These upgrades will be completed by 2012.

In addition, specialty apparel retailer Esprit will open at the center this fall, while a 35,000-square-foot Nordstrom Rack is scheduled to open in the spring of 2012.

New TJ Maxx Coming at Wall Street

TJ Maxx signed a lease with Capstone Equities for a 32,000-square-foot store at 14 Wall Street in New York City. The retailer plans to open the store in October. Its frontage will be visible from the New York Stock Exchange. Scott Auster and Peter Ripco, of Ripco Real Estate, represented the tenant in the transaction. Darrell Rubens, of Winick Realty Group LLC, represented the landlord.

Jo-Ann Fabric Signs Lease at Cole’s Wyomissing Property

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores negotiated a 10-year lease with Cole Real Estate Investments for a 25,000-square-foot store at 1075 Woodland Road in Wyomissing, Pa. The lease features three five-year renewal options. Jo-Ann Fabric will be moving into a space formerly occupied by Borders.

Michaels, Anytime Fitness, Along with Other Retailers, Open at Centro Properties

Michaels signed a lease with Centro Properties Group US for a 25,000-square-foot store at Western Hills Plaza in Cincinnati, Ohio. Scott Saddlemire, of Brandt Retail Group, represented the tenant in the transaction. Elizabeth Houser served as in-house representative for Centro.

In addition, Centro signed smaller leases throughout its portfolio with Fabrique! Fashion Fabrics, Variety Gift Shop, No Wait Cash, Sally Beauty Supply, Anytime Fitness, Genghis Grill, Chase Bank, Antonio Pharmacy, Team Uniform and Fashion Fresh Dry Cleaning.

Planet Fitness Expands in New York City

Planet Fitness signed a 15-year lease with Himmel+Meringoff Properties for a 20,000-square-foot club at 158 W. 27th Street in New York City. Planet Fitness plans to open its new location in January. Richard Chera and Jordan Barker, of Crown Retail Services, represented the chain in the transaction.

Ellwood Thompson’s to Operate Organic Grocery at Federal’s Rockville Town Square

Ellwood Thompson’s signed a lease with Federal Realty Investment Trust to open a 15,000-square-foot Dawson’s Market, a local, organic grocery store at Rockville Town Square in Rockville, Md. The store is scheduled to open in the spring of 2012. Dawson’s Market will work directly with local farmers, and will focus on selling healthy and local foods and supporting the local community through donations, sustainable business practices, animal welfare and environmental consciousness.

In a separate announcement, Federal Realty hired Jeffrey Fischer as senior leasing associate. In his new position, Fischer will be based in the company’s Wynnewood, Pa. office and will focus on leasing properties in Philadelphia and New Jersey. He has 12 years of experience in leasing and tenant representation. Prior to joining Federal Realty, he served as senior director of leasing with Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust.

Regency Centers Brings New Tenants to Properties in Texas, Alabama

Regency Centers signed leases with two new retailers at The Shops at Highland Village in Highland Village, Texas. Delta Dental Insurance Co. signed a 10,678-square-foot lease and Addison June Baby Boutique signed a 2,419-square-foot lease.

Regency also signed a 2,000-square-foot lease with Fairhope Cosmetic Dentistry and a 2,000-square-foot lease with Roy Rose Jewelry at its Shoppes at Fairhope Village in Fairhope, Ala.

Christmas Tree Shops Renews its Lease at Connecticut’s Hale Road Plaza

Christmas Tree Shops Inc. signed a 12-year renewal lease with The Lightstone Group for a 58,000-square-foot store at Hale Road Plaza in Manchester, Conn. The lease is valued at $8 million.

Other Notable News

BuildingWise LLC appointed W. Bruce Crawford as CEO. In his new position, Crawford will be responsible for operations, client relationships, plus financial and managerial aspects of the company. He has more than 20 years of experience in real estate and business consultation services, as well as financial management.

Colliers International South Florida appointed Stephen Nostrand as CEO. In his new position, Nostrand will direct the staff and manage the revenue of the firm. Nostrand has 35 years of experience in commercial real estate. He previously served as managing director.

CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. promoted Grayson Gill to chief operating officer of its asset services business line. In his new position, Gill will be responsible for the operations of asset services in the U.S. He has more than 24 years of experience in commercial real estate. Previously, he served as senior managing director with the company.

Callison announced that it will expand the role of Leigh Dennis, managing director of its European practice, to its New York and London offices. Dennis’ focus in New York will be to manage existing projects and foster new business in local and global markets. The shift is part of Callison’s strategy to align resources with marketplace demand.

Retail Group of America Inc. appointed Joanna B. Shawver as vice president of real estate. In her new position, Shawver will lead the company’s real estate expansion in the United States. She has more than 20 years of experience in commercial real estate. Prior to joining Retail Group of America, she worked as vice president of leasing with RED Development.

Cohen Brothers Realty Corp. hired Erika K. Schanke as vice president of leasing. In her new position, Schanke will focus on the design center and retail leasing for the company’s national real estate portfolio. Previously, she worked in the retail brokerage services division of Cushman & Wakefield.

Coreland Cos. hired Kimberly Talley as senior associate in its retail brokerage division. Previously, Talley served as senior associate with CB Richard Ellis. While there, she was a top producer in the firm’s retail properties group.

Donna Farrell has been appointed as general manager for Moreno Valley Mall in Moreno Valley, Calif. Farrell served as the property’s general manager from 1996 to 2002.