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CASTO Snaps Up Puerto Rico Deal
Friday, May 23, 2008
Article from Business First by Brian Ball
Columbus, Ohio — Casto has stepped into the Caribbean sunshine on a $400 million joint venture with Commercial Centers Management Inc., a Puerto Rican investor. The Columbus developer and Commercial Centers formed Casto Caribbean to own nine retail properties totaling 1.5 million square feet throughout Puerto Rico and Commercial Centers’ 222,000-square-foot Scotiabank office building in the San Juan financial district. Casto partner Tony Martin said Commercial Centers first invested with Casto 11 years ago in the redevelopment of a Winter Park, Fla. shopping mall into a retail lifestyle center. Since then, the companies have expanded their portfolio to eight lifestyle centers in the Carolinas and Florida with a combined 2 million square feet and three mixed-use projects with a combined 2 million square feet. “The real driving factor was the strong partnership we have the Commercial Centers,” Martin said. The venture makes Casto Caribbean, half owned by Casto, among the five largest retail property owners in Puerto Rico. Martin said Casto Caribbean likely will invest in other properties on the island but any new development would happen only if the joint venture can clear regulatory hurdles. Still, Commercial Centers has the leasing contacts to attract eager American retailers, Martin said. “They’re active in bringing mainland tenants to the island,” he said. Casto’s mortgage banking division, Pace Financial Group LLC, organized the deal’s financing through U.S. and Puerto Rican banks as well as a U.S. life insurance company. JPMorgan Asset Managment, a Casto financial partner in other deals, also provided mezzanine financing.

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