Retail center owner and operator Equity One Inc. is selling 36 shopping centers to Blackstone Real Estate Partners VII for $473.1 million. Assets included in the sale are linked to mortgages with an aggregate principal balance of $177.4 million. The transaction gives Miami Beach, Fla.-based Equity One room to fund commercial real estate purchases while retiring existing debt, the company said in a statement. The shopping centers included in the sale are predominately in Maryland and across the Southeast. Combined the centers generated operating income of $35.4 million for the year ending June 30. As of two months ago, the properties are 91% occupied. "We are very pleased to enter into this transaction with Blackstone," said Jeff Olson, Equity One chief executive officer. "Together with our $600 million purchase of capital and counties and other recent acquisitions, this sale significantly advances our strategic plan to concentrate our portfolio in the urban retail markets of New York, Miami, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles." Equity One owns or operates about 219 properties, including 192 shopping centers. Ten of those projects are still under development or in the redevelopment stage. Write to Kerri Panchuk.