[Source: Lou Hirsch, Riverside Press-Enterprise, and Cathryn Creno, Arizona Republic] — As mall operator General Growth Properties attempts to refinance loans and avert bankruptcy, observers say the immediate outcome will have no impact on shoppers. Drew Wetherholt, national retail director in the Ontario (CA) office of brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap, said that will remain true even if General Growth is forced to sell off some or all of its malls. “The malls will not be closing,” Wetherholt said. “The consumer won’t even notice a change.”
Chicago-based General Growth is a real estate investment trust with stakes in more than 200 shopping centers nationwide. In Arizona, the company owns Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix, Park West in Peoria, and three additional centers in Tucson and Sierra Vista. General Growth is trying to negotiate an extension on $900 million in debt that was due to be repaid Friday, but warned late last week there can be “no assurance” it will get a reprieve. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Cathryn Creno, Arizona Republic, June 11, 2008] — Westcor, the Valley’s largest mall company, turns 40 next year. Like many mid-lifers, the company believes it is experienced enough to capitalize on opportunities and challenges by developing a long-term strategy and sticking to it. It presently is spending about $1 billion on projects ranging from renovation of older malls like Metrocenter and Scottsdale Fashion Square to the continued development of the SanTan Village regional lifestyle center in Gilbert. And Westcor also is pondering what it might be doing 40 years in the future: Developing green buildings; fashioning centers that incorporate bus routes and condo towers; and capitalizing on relationships with retailers that could be the Macy’s or JC Penneys of tomorrow.
Westcor faces the same challenges as other businesses – rising costs of fuel, materials, and labor, said Garrett Newland, a Westcor VP for development. But Newland and other Westcor officials said this week that the current economic slump has not reduced the pace any of its redevelopment projects and only has slowed development of one regional center, Estrella Falls in Goodyear. “We aren’t ‘spec-ing,'” said development VP Scott Nelson, in reference to a practice by some companies that build first and hope retailers will lease space later on. “We are building space that has been pre-leased.” Newland said Westcor also is “already looking at sites further out” than SanVan (sic) Village and Estrella Falls, although concrete plans for those areas may not be ready for years. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]