[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Throngs of tourists and a neighborhood building spree have helped turn things around at Arizona Center, a 19-year-old outdoor mall that was a pioneering downtown Phoenix redevelopment project.
There are questions about the mall’s future. In April, Arizona Center’s parent company, General Growth Properties Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But for now, “it’s absolutely business as usual” for mall customers and shop owners, said mall General Manager Chris Bilotto. In media reports, analysts have speculated that some of General Growth’s 200-plus malls could be sold.
While shop owners wait for news on the bankruptcy case, they are enjoying a boost from the mall’s new neighbors: the Phoenix Convention Center, which finished a $600 million expansion last winter, and the 1,000-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel that opened last fall. Since January, the convention center has hosted 44 events with more than 233,175 visitors, a convention center spokeswoman said. In 2008, the center had 49 conventions and 122,625 attendees. That foot traffic has kept Arizona Center cash registers ringing and has helped to reduce the effect of the economic downturn, shop owners say. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Arizona Center is enjoying tourist season crowds, but the downtown Phoenix mall’s parent company faces financial troubles, according to this report from Arizona Republic business writer Max Jarman. “General Growth Properties, owner of the Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix, Tucson Mall, and a string of other retail properties in Arizona is negotiating with creditors to avoid bankruptcy,” Jarman wrote.
“The troubled Chicago mall owner is asking its bondholders to abstain from demanding payments on some $2.25 billion in loans for rest of this year,” Jarman reported. “The company would use the breathing room to restructure its balance sheet and raise money by selling assets. General Growth needs its bondholders to agree to the deal by March 16,” he wrote. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[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.]