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Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRT - Analyst Report), a real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns, manages and develops retail and mixed-use properties, has recently gained management control of the Rockville Town Square parking garage replacing the City of Rockville.

The strategic move is aimed at building a public-private partnership to create a more customer-friendly parking experience in the shopping mall, in tune with the vibrant downtown environment of the region.

Rockville Town Square is one of the premier shopping and dining destinations in Rockville, Maryland. The property includes 180,000 square feet of street-level restaurants and shops, 644 condominiums and apartments, and 2,000 parking spaces.

With the reigns of the parking garage in its hands, Federal Realty intends to incorporate state-of-the-art parking equipment that allows customers to pay when they leave instead of upon arrival, better way-finding signage, and an overall updated look and feel of the mall.

In addition, the company also plans to provide customers who park at Rockville Town Square and make a purchase from one of its shops or restaurants a two-hours free parking validation. However, additional hours would be charged on a cost-per-hour basis with several payment methods available.

Federal Realty is presently mulling the inclusion of additional amenities over the next several months as part of a larger effort to establish a "one stop" experience for visitors and commuters at Rockville Town Square. These would mostly comprise options such as dry cleaning pick-up and drop-off, car wash station, electric car charging station and zip car rental station.

Federal Realty primarily owns Class-A shopping centers in high-barrier, high-growth areas. The properties of the company are anchored by supermarkets, drug stores or high-volume value-oriented retailers, which provide consumer necessities.

Since its inception in 1962, Federal Realty has paid uninterrupted dividends, and has the unique distinction of increasing the dividend for 44 consecutive years – the longest in the REIT industry.

We maintain our ‘Neutral’ recommendation on Federal Realty, which presently has a Zacks #3 Rank that translates into a short-term ‘Hold' recommendation and indicates that the stock is expected to perform in line with the overall U.S. equity market for the next 1–3 months. We also have a ‘Neutral’ recommendation and a Zacks #3 Rank for Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PEI - Snapshot Report), one of the peers of Federal Realty.

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