Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Concord Mills and SouthPark owner goes shopping for more malls

Big business doings in the Midwest today could reverberate on Charlotte's shopping scene - depending on the outcome.

Simon Property Group, the Indianapolis-based owner of SouthPark and Concord Mills malls, has offered $10 billion to buy General Growth Properties, the bankrupt, Chicago-based company that owns Carolina Place and Valley Hills Mall in Hickory. It is also, with Childress Klein Properties, one of the developers of the stalled Bridges at Mint Hill shopping center, at Lawyers Road and Interstate 485. With more than 300 malls, Simon is the largest mall operator in the country, and General Growth is the second-largest. But the latter has struggled under a giant debt load and entered Chapter 11 last year, leaving other companies eyeing its portfolio.

If Simon's bid for General Growth succeeds, one company would control three of the region's four largest malls, concentrating a lot of power in one place. (The fourth, Northlake Mall, is owned by Detroit-based Taubman Centers.) But it's far from a done deal. According to the Wall Street Journal, General Growth has also been negotiating with a Canadian real estate company, Brookfield Asset Management, which is interested in buying a sizable stake to help lift General Growth out of bankruptcy as an independent company. A bankruptcy judge will also have to approve any deal.

Though who owns a mall isn't usually too apparent - or much of a concern - to shoppers, it has an important impact on factors such as the type of tenants the mall can recruit and the appearance and maintenance of the building. Not that this is a perfect example, but consider Eastland Mall, where owner disinterest arguably hastened the decline of an already-shaky mall. And it makes you wonder from a competitive standpoint, too - if such a deal goes through, would Simon have to sell off some properties to avoid antitrust issues? We may yet find out - and will keep you posted.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Carolina Place is our favorite mall. I hope Simon doesn't goof it up like they did with Southpark.

Anonymous said...

"Goof up" SouthPark? What??? Carolina Place is a dump.

J said...

I'm not a fan of this deal - too much centralized power. This behemouth will be able to charge higher rents to store occupants in all of its malls, which will result in higher prices for you and me. I hope the FTC rejects it.

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