WASHINGTON - First Union Corp. has become the latest banking company to invest in the commercial real estate investment company UrbanAmerica LP.

UrbanAmerica acquires and develops property in inner-city communities, and in exchange the investing banking companies receive Community Reinvestment Act credit.

First Union has invested $1 million in UrbanAmerica, which has received more than $60 million from banking companies and has bought 2.4 million square feet in 16 commercial properties valued at $165 million since January 2000.

The CRA requires banking companies with more than $250 million of assets to lend to, serve, and invest in their local communities. Some companies have had trouble determining what investments fulfill the CRA's investment component.

Other investors include Deutsche Bank AG, Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Summit Bancorp of Princeton, N.J., PNC Financial Services Group Inc., Washington Mutual Inc., and Prudential Insurance Company of America.

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