Simon Property Group Inc. will unify the two main shopping venues of King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pa. The project will involve a multi-level expansion connecting the five-anchor 1.68-million-sq.-ft. plaza with the two-anchor 902,000-sq.-ft. food court. The expansion will include approximately 40 new retailers, several restaurants, an upscale dining pavilion and a customer lounge, altogether totaling 140,000 sq. ft. of space. Simon timed the project to coincide with the center’s 50th anniversary.

“This expansion will not only enhance the shopping experience, providing an enclosed retail and amenity-filled link between the two properties, but also create much needed additional space to accommodate the demand that exists for this property,” said David Contis, president of Simon Malls. “Given the productivity of this property, there is significant demand from retailers and restauranteurs unique to the market wishing to cater to our clientele.”

In a separate announcement, Simon Property Group and Genting Berhad opened Johor Premium Outlets in Johor Bahur, Malaysia, the first Premium Outlet Center in Southeast Asia. The center contains 173,000 sq. ft. of GLA and features 80 stores, including Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Coach, Esprit, Gap and Michael Kors, among others. Simon developed the center through a 50/50 partnership with Genting Berhad.

GGP Appoints Michael Berman as EVP and CFO

General Growth Properties Inc. appointed Michael B. Berman as executive vice president and CFO, effective Dec. 15, 2011. Berman will replace Steve Douglas, who will return to Brookfield Asset Management, but will remain with GGP until Dec. 31, 2011 to assist with the transition.

“We thank Steve for his dedication and tenacity in achieving a stable financial and reporting platform from which GGP can prosper,” said GGP CEO Sandeep Mathrani in a statement. “We wish him much success. The company is pleased to attract the caliber of Mr. Berman to the GGP team. Mr. Berman’s broad financial and accounting experience in the real estate sector will be a valuable asset to the company.”

Previously, Berman served as executive vice president of Equity LifeStyle Properties Inc. He was also a member of the company’s management committee and had been its CFO and treasurer since September 2003.

RiverRock to Manage Red Mountain Shopping Centers in California and Arizona

Red Mountain Retail Group appointed RiverRock Real Estate Group as property manager for its retail properties in California and Arizona. The portfolio totals approximately 3 million sq. ft. of space, including neighborhood and regional shopping centers.

“After we explored internalizing the management function, and reviewed other outsourcing solutions, we selected RiverRock to represent our property management interests,” said Lori Gast, senior vice president of operations for Red Mountain Retail Group, in a statement. “The combination of RiverRock’s expertise, proven track record of success, and cooperation partnership approach made them the natural choice to manage our retail assets.”

Stacey Monroe will handle this assignment on behalf of RiverRock.

Watt to Spend $20M on Edinger Plaza Renovation

Watt Commercial Properties will undertake a $20 million renovation of Edinger Plaza, a 145,143-sq.-ft. retail center in Huntington Beach, Calif.

As part of the project, Watt will convert and expand an existing CVS building into a 47,948-sq.-ft. space for Dick’s Sporting Goods. An existing Michael’s store will undergo building façade, storefront improvements and a 25,000-sq.-ft. shell expansion. A vacated Howard’s space will be expanded to accommodate a new 34,000-sq.-ft. tenant and will get a new building façade, seismic upgrades, a new roof and upgraded electrical service. The exteriors of the remaining buildings will be renovated and Watt will complete site and landscaping improvements throughout the property.

Moorefield Construction will serve as the general contractor on the project.

Investec Realty Signs Franchise Agreement With Sperry Van Ness

Investec Realty Services, a Memphis, Tenn.-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 / Investec Realty Services and will provide acquisition, disposition, landlord representation, tenant representation, development, consulting, project management and property management services for office, industrial, retail, land and medical office properties. It will be led by Anthony Lopes, John Snyder and John Albright.

L.A. Fitness to Open at Cityville in Dallas

L.A. Fitness signed a lease with Cityville Dallas Haskell Limited Partnership for a 50,000-sq.-ft. club at Cityville at Cityplace development in Dallas. John Zikos and Jonathan Cooper, of Venture Commercial, represented the tenant in the transaction in partnership with Walt Brown, Jr., of Diversified Partners. Jack Gosnell, of United Commercial Realty, represented the landlord.

Basset Furniture to Open New Store in Torrance, California

Basset Direct Inc. signed a lease with Berke Enterprises LLC for an 18,450-sq.-ft. Bassett Furniture store at 22850 Hawthorne Blvd. in Torrance, Calif. The retailer plans to open the store before the end of the year. Sheri Messerlian, senior vice president with NAI Capital, and Peter Donnellan, represented the landlord in the transaction. Epstein and Associates represented the tenant.

RealtyLink Completes Staples Store in Tennessee

RealtyLink LLC completed the development of an 18,000-sq.-ft. Staples store at the Galleria of Memphis shopping center in Cordova, Tenn. Kohl’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Ashley Furniture anchor the property.

Northridge Fashion Center Welcomes Five New Tenants

Northridge Fashion Center signed leases with new tenants totaling 73,040 sq. ft. of space. The new tenants include Sports Authority, My Fashion Club, Best Buy Mobile, Steve Madden and Fanzz.

Regency Completes New Deals in the Houston Market

Regency Centers has signed leases totaling more than 10,020 sq. ft. in the Houston market:

  • Compass Bank signed a lease for an outparcel at Panther Creek Village Square in The Woodlands;
  • Learning Express signed a lease for a 3,200-sq.-ft. store at Alden Bridge Village Center;
  • Akaihi Japanese Restaurant signed a 3,924-sq.-ft. lease at Kleinwood Center;
  • Therapeutic Thai Massage signed a lease for a 1,700-sq.-ft. space at Sweetwater Plaza;
  • GameStop signed a 1,320-sq.-ft. lease at Westwood Village.
  • Menchie’s Signs Six New Leases

    Present Value Properties Inc. represented Menchie’s in six lease transactions. The chain signed a 1,637-sq.-ft. lease at 1267 North Tustin St. in Orange; a 1,250-sq.-ft. lease at Santa Fe Springs Plaza in Whittier; a 1,572-sq.-ft. lease at Rolling Hills Plaza in Torrance; a 1,500-sq.-ft. lease at Downey Landing in Downey; and a 1,582-sq.-ft. lease at 1170 E. Main Street in El Cajon. All leases were for five-year terms. Sharon Courtway, Bernie Labowitz and Greg Fisher, of Present Value Properties, represented Menchie’s in the transactions.

    Other Notable News

    CBRE Group Inc. hired Amira Yunis as executive vice president of retail services in its Midtown Manhattan office, effective Dec. 5. Yunis specializes in tenant and landlord representation. Previously, she worked as executive vice president and principal with Newmark Knight Frank. Yunis won the Real Estate Board of New York’s 2006 Ingenious Deal of the Year Award for helping New York University bring the first Trader Joe’s to Manhattan.

    Baum Realty Group hired Danny Spitz as vice president of investment sales. Spitz has nine years of experience in commercial real estate brokerage and finance. Previously, he handled investment sales and retail leasing for @properties Commercial.

    Jones Lang LaSalle appointed Erin Shaffer as vice president of marketing for the Southwest region. In her new position, she will lead the development and implementation of strategic marketing/business development programs in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. Previously, Shaffer served as national marketing director at sbe Entertainment. While there, she was responsible for developing integrated marketing strategies, including brand positioning, global partnership promotions, public relations and digital platforms.

    Colliers International South Florida appointed Erin Dee as a commercial associate. Dee joined Colliers International in 2007. She specializes in leasing.

    NAI Hunneman hired Henry D. Lieber as an associate in its investment services group. In his new position, Lieber will focus on multifamily and commercial investment sales in Boston and the surrounding suburbs. Prior to joining NAI Hunneman, he worked at Commonwealth Commercial Advisors.

    SRS Real Estate Partners hired Jessica Taylor as marketing coordinator in its Austin, Texas office. In her new position, Taylor will be responsible for executing the national marketing strategy at the local level. Previously, she worked as a senior accountant with HBK Capital Management.