Equity One Inc. has grown to become a safe, reliable REIT in its eight years as a public company through a straightforward strategy of looking for portfolio deals in its core markets, especially in and around Florida. But faced with an increase in property prices, the company is switching gears. Equity has grown its ground-up development pipeline and has broadened its geographic scope in looking for portfolio acquisitions. With that change in focus, the company is making a leadership switch for the first time.

In a big move, Equity One is tapping Jeffrey Olson, Kimco Realty Corp.'s president of eastern and western regions, to be its new president and CEO. Olson will join the company January 1 and will officially assume his new posts in April. Olson will take the reins from Chairman and CEO Chaim Katzman and President and COO Doron Valero. Katzman, who has been chairman and CEO since founding the company in 1992, will relinquish his CEO title to Olson while remaining as chairman. Valero, however, who has been with the firm for 13 years, will leave effective January 1.

According to observers, Olson has built a strong reputation for his acquisition and negotiation skills. A former UBS analyst, he came to Kimco in 2002 and has played a key role in several of the company's transactions, including its $4 billion buyout of Pan Pacific Retail Properties.

“When you look at the mold of someone like Milton Cooper, Jeff has many of the same strengths,” says Barry Vinocur, editor of Realty Stock Review. “He understands the concept of being the fiduciary for the shareholder.”