Simon Property Group broke ground for Merrimack Premium Outlets, an upscale outlet shopping center in Merrimack, N.H. When completed, the 380,000-square-foot center will serve the Greater Boston and Nashua markets.

Merrimack Premium Outlets will be located on a 170-acre site off the F.E. Everett Turnpike in Hillsborough County and will feature approximately 100 outlet stores. Simon plans to open the center in 2012.

“Merrimack Premium Outlets will bring together an impressive collection of many of the finest brands, offering value, quality and selection all in one convenient location,” said John R. Klein, CEO of Premium Outlets, Simon, in an official statement. “We are also pleased to begin a new project that is creating hundreds of new jobs and significant economic development for the area.”

ALDI Signs First Regional Mall Lease

ALDI signed a 20,000-square-foot lease with the Westfield Group for its first store inside a regional mall at Westfield Chicago Ridge in Cook County, Ill. The supermarket will take the space that formerly housed Steve & Barry’s. ALDI will open the store in May 2011.

“Introducing the new grocery category to our shopping centers is first and foremost a valuable new option for our customers, and a very positive move for our grocery store partners,” said Chris Barnett, senior vice president with Westfield, in an official statement. “We plan to expand this concept throughout our U.S. portfolio and are currently talking to a number of grocers.”

Charles Dunn to Handle Leasing at LA's 7th&Fig Center

Brookfield Office Properties appointed Charles Dunn Co. Inc. as the exclusive leasing agent for its 7th&Fig shopping center in Los Angeles. The property is a three-level, 330,000-square-foot open-air center that houses such tenants as Morton’s Steakhouse, California Pizza Kitchen and Gold’s Gym.

Ted Slaught and Kevin Dee, senior managing directors in Charles Dunn’s downtown Los Angeles office, will handle this assignment.

High Real Estate Starts Phase II of Mill Creek Square

High Real Estate Group LLC started construction on Phase II of Mill Creek Square in Lancaster County, Pa. Phase II will include 57,412 square feet of space and feature a 14,736-square-foot Staples as an anchor. Phase II of the project is scheduled to open in the summer of 2011.

When completed, Mill Creek Square will be a $40 million, 288,132-square-foot community shopping center in East Lampeter Township, Pa.

Levin to Renovate Hamilton Plaza

Levin Management Corp. started $10 million renovation of Hamilton Plaza, a 184,272-square-foot shopping center in Hamilton Township, N.J. In addition to a new façade, expanded landscaping and new pylon signage, the project will include partial demolition of a portion of the existing building and the expansion of a ShopRite superstore to 86,000 square feet.

Levin also signed a 12,310-square-foot lease with Citi Trends, a value-priced family apparel retailer, for a store at Hickory Plaza in Hickory, N.C. Jeff Mullis, of Sperry Van Ness, represented the landlord. Webb Reyner, of Reyner Retail Development Consulting, represented the tenant.

Home Emporium to Occupy Former Walmart in Ohio

Home Emporium signed a 125,469-square-foot lease at the site of a former Walmart in Springdale, Ohio. The store is scheduled to open in November 2010. Bobby Benjamin, associate broker with Goodman Real Estate Services Group, represented Walmart in the transaction.

REI to Open First New York Store in Historic Building

Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), an outdoor gear and apparel retailer, signed a 39,000-square-foot lease with the Kushner Cos. for a location in the Puck Building in New York City. This will be REI’s first New York City store. The store is scheduled to open in the fall of 2011.

Susan Kurland, of CB Richard Ellis, represented REI in the transaction. Lori Shabtai, of Winick Realty, and Ira Bloom, of Kushner Cos., represented the landlord.

Syms/Filene’s Basement to Open Joint Store on New York’s Fifth Avenue

Syms signed a lease with The Moinian Group for a 34,000-square-foot joint Syms/Filene’s Basement store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Syms’/Filene’s Basement’s neighbors will include Zara and H&M.

Darrell Rubens, senior managing director with Winick Realty Group LLC, and Lori Shabtai, executive vice president, represented the landlord in the transaction. The Lansco Corp. represented the tenant.

Ashley Takes a Former Circuit City

Ashley Furniture signed a lease with Dowel-Conshohocken LLC for a 33,000-square-foot store at Lincoln Court in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. The store was formerly occupied by a Circuit City. Randy Hope and Joseph Dougherty, of Metro Commercial, represented the landlord in the transaction. Julius M. Feinblum Real Estate represented the tenant.

Other Notable News

Grosvenor Americas hired Scott A. Brody as vice president of investments in its Washington, D.C. office. In his new position, Brody will oversee the firm’s investment activities in District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. Previously, he worked as vice president and general manager with Opus East LLC.

Designer Furniture Warehouse (DFW) signed a 25,500-square-foot lease with the Cafaro Co. for a store at Eastwood Mall in Niles, Ohio. The store will be located next to Sears.

Michaels has opened a 22,333-square-foot store on Dawsonville Highway in Gainesville, Ga. RealtyLink developed the store.

CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. hired Patrick Connell as managing director of recovery and restructuring services. In his new position, Connell will lead the firm’s efforts with its special servicer clients in its recovery and restructuring services group. Previously, Connell worked at CW Capital Asset Management.

Dollar Tree signed a 12,123-square-foot lease at Doheny Village Center in Capistrano Beach, Calif. Dan Parker, of Parker & Associates Inc. , represented the landlord in the transaction. John Beaney, of Studley, represented the tenant.