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JV places major bets on malls

November 22, 2020

COVID-19 is putting a major strain on most U.S. shopping centers and malls, but one group of investors is taking the opportunity to pick up assets and reinvent them to benefit local communities.

Namdar and Mason Asset Management formed a joint venture 10 years ago to acquire well-located retail properties, primarily shopping centers and enclosed malls, whether they are stabilized or value-add opportunities. Their deals range from $5 million to $150 million. Namdar focuses on the financial and property management side while Mason handles leasing, sales, asset management, redevelopment and marketing. Together, they own and manage over 180 properties, including around 60 malls, totaling more than 55 million square feet.

The partners have been on a shopping center binge this year, buying:

  • Belknap Mall in Belmont, New Hampshire
  • Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania
  • Concord Mall in Wilmington, Delaware
  • Eastdale Mall in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Hickory Point Mall in Forsyth, Illinois
  • Meriden Mall in Meriden, Connecticut
  • Mesilla Mall in Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • South Park Mall in San Antonio
  • Tops Plaza in Cortland, New York
  • West Valley Mall in Tracy, California
  • Westgate Mall in Amarillo, Texas

Namdar and Mason have a playbook once they acquire a shopping center. “When we acquire a new property, we often take an aggressive leasing approach to bolster the tenancy in place with new opportunities, and it’s our goal to continue to add value by further leasing and developing the site,” said Mason Asset Management president Elliot Nassim. “To that end, we look at all sorts of tenant options and the associated credit risk. We work right alongside our tenants to create new concepts and strategies to attract patrons. Our goal is always to capitalize on the value for local communities, regardless of the present state of a mall.”

Additionally, “redeveloping those properties to optimal performance is always the goal,” he said. The JV’s redeveloped properties often include mixed uses: traditional retail, entertainment like bowling alleys and theaters, fitness centers, office and residential. “The partnership works diligently to determine what use for the property will best benefit the surrounding neighborhood and reinvigorate the local community,” Nassim said.

The pandemic also has given the partners an opportunity to invest beyond real estate. Recently, they purchased Jennifer Furniture. It has six locations in New York and New Jersey, and the JV is looking to grow the footprint throughout the country. “While the pandemic has made many asset classes vulnerable, Jennifer Furniture is a well-known brand that is well-positioned for growth,” Nassim said. “Especially with more people working from home, we see the home furnishings and decor market segment as one that is poised for growth.”

The JV also acquired Goodrich Quality Theaters, which has 22 locations in Michigan, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. “We feel that the theater industry is currently characterized by significant pent-up demand, and we anticipate that people will want to go out for entertainment when it is safer to do so,” said Nassim.

Looking ahead, he sees no slowdown in retail property acquisition targets. “Given the nature of this year, we expect to see a flurry of deal flow in early 2021,” he said.

By Ben Johnson

Contributor, Shopping Centers Today

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