Duke shuttering retail real estate unit

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Locally based Duke Realty Corp. is leaving the retail real estate business to focus on its bread-and-butter industrial, office and health care developments.

The move will eliminate about six jobs, said company spokesman Joel Reuter. The company’s retail properties represent only about 1.5 percent of its nationwide portfolio, but it has worked on some high-profile local projects-including West Carmel Marketplace along Michigan Road, and Marketplace at Anson.

Duke has partnered with Grubb & Ellis Harding Dahm & Co. to develop the remainder of the Anson space, but is looking to sell other retail properties it holds across the country, Reuter said.

In April, the company laid off 45 employees, or 3.3 percent of its work force, in a move designed to help it cope with tightening credit markets and a slowing economy. At the time, the company said its projection for 2008 development starts had dropped to about $750 million from $1.3 billion.

Still, Duke appears to have fared better than rival Lauth Group Inc., which has pared its staff by more than 50 percent since the beginning of the year, from about 450 employees to 220.

Duke has more than 500 local employees and about 1,300 nationwide.

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