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Shopping center owners to confer

More than 500 shopping center owners, developers, brokers, tenants and investors gather in St. Petersburg on Tuesday to catch up on their industry's latest trends on Florida's West Coast.

Sponsored by the International Council of Shopping Centers, Idea Exchange topics range from which retailers are hunting for expansion space to what types of centers the voracious retail Real Estate Investment Trusts, or REITS, want to acquire next.

Among the speakers is John Crossman, a Trammell Crow Co. senior vice president, who projects that strong residential growth will continue to fuel retail investment, particularly when it comes to strip centers.

"2003 has been referred to as the "Year of the Strip Center' with neighborhood shopping centers the preferred investment for institutional clients," Crossman said. "2004 topped that and, now, 2005 looks to be even stronger."

Nearly a third of all shopping center sales statewide last year occurred on the west coast, including such large deals as Clearwater Mall, Embassy Crossings in Port Richey and Cypress Trace in Fort Myers.