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SERS bets on Pa. real estate

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Sometimes you have to bet big to win big. Isn't that what they say at the casino?

It also applies to real estate.

Last week, the State Employees' Retirement System, or SERS, made a sizable bet on the continued recovery of real estate in Pennsylvania.

With nearly $26 billion in assets, SERS will invest $50 million with Regional Real Estate Investment Corp. — part of a venture with the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, or PREIT — to solely buy real estate within the commonwealth.

That amount was part of a $100 million investment total by the board.

SERS, which is the state-administered pension fund for retired state workers, also invested $30 million in direct hedge fund investments and up to $20 million in alternative investments.

According to other coverage of the meeting, the system owns about $3 billion in real estate.

Is Pennsylvania real estate a good bet that will pay dividends? Let's hope so for the sake of the system, which has an unfunded liability of $17.9 billion.

PREIT, which owns the Capital City Mall and North Hanover Mall, was one of the first equity REITs in the U.S. Its portfolio includes 46 properties, including 36 retail shopping malls, in 13 states, primarily in the Mid-Atlantic. PREIT has about 31 million square feet of retail space.

In January, PREIT completed the sale of Paxton Towne Center.

PREIT shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PEI.

Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jasons@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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