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Westside Pavilion and 7 More Old Malls Finding New Lives, Nontraded REITs May Be Selling in 2024 and More to Kick Off 2024

January 5, 2024

Westside Pavilion and 7 More Old Malls Finding New Lives

Rendering of Westside Pavilion mall transformed into UCLA Research Park

1 Empty Mall Becomes a Research Park and Another Goes Mixed-Use

UCLA plans to convert Los Angeles’ Westside Pavilion into the UCLA Research Park. The university has just purchased the three-level, 700,000-square-foot enclosed mall from Hudson Pacific Properties and Macerich for $700 million, including $500 million from the state of California. With the help of previous part-tenant Google’s help, a significant chunk of the mall underwent a facelift, including upgrades to building systems, improvements to protect against seismic activity, a window wall, sleek concrete facades and outdoor spaces like courtyards and terraces. Hudson Pacific, Macerich and Google also transformed a section into flex office. The Westside Pavilion opened its doors in 1985 and became, for a time, a West Los Angeles mainstay with a three-story bookstore and cinemas, and it made Hollywood cameos, including in the movie Clueless. “We recognize the former Westside Pavilion’s place in L.A.’s history and are grateful for the chance to turn the empty former mall into the future home of discoveries that will change the world,” said UCLA chancellor Gene Block.

And the next phase in Centennial’s redevelopment of the Hawthorn mall — north of Chicago in Vernon Hills, Illinois — will include another 250 apartments, a three-acre outdoor plaza, a new food “gallery” and  additional food-and-beverage outparcels. Anthropologie, Free People Movement, Lovesac and Sephora will open shops this year in ground-floor space at The Domaine at Hawthorn Row, which replaced the former Sears footprint with a 311-unit luxury apartment development housed in two four-story buildings flanking a streetscape.

5 More Malls Going Open-Air Mixed-Use

Hendricks Commercial Properties has a 10-year, $650 million plan to transform downtown Indianapolis’ enclosed Circle Centre Mall into a pedestrian-focused, open-air setting with restaurants, apartments, office and retail. Hendricks acquired the property from Circle Centre Development Co., a partnership of 17 investors. The developer also plans to buy the land the mall sits on and the parking garages around it from the city.

Simon and Hines plan to transform Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Briarwood Mall into a mixed-use village. The developers will demolish the 50-year-old mall’s 166,000-square-foot Sears, which Simon acquired for $2.2 million in 2022, three years after it shuttered. On the site of the Sears, the developers will add a 58,000-square-foot grocery store, a 100,000-square-foot sporting goods store and 370 apartments in two four-story buildings.

Kushner Cos. is tearing down 600,000 square feet of the 1.5 million-square-foot, 1960s-era Monmouth Mall, including an empty JCPenney, to make way for 1,000 apartments and 900,000 square feet of retail. Whole Foods will join the Eatontown, New Jersey, property as part of the redevelopment, which kicks off in March.

Empire State Development, the public benefit corporation responsible for promoting economic growth and job creation in New York state, will invest $31 million in the redevelopment of Amherst’s 962,000-square-foot Boulevard Mall into a mixed-use, transit-oriented town center with restaurants, retail, open spaces and 1,500 residential units. Douglas Development Corp. and Benderson Development own stakes in the 1960s-era mall.

The 434,482-square-foot Inlet Square Mall in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, will redevelop its interior space into open-air shops, restaurants, hotels and medical facilities. The Planet Fitness and Belk department store will continue to operate while Paramount Development Corp. demolishes the center of the mall to make way for new uses.

1 Mall That Will Keep Some Retail and Build Office

St. John Properties will demolish the 1 million-square-foot Harrisburg Mall in Pennsylvania to make way for the 550,000-square-foot, 12-building Swatara Exchange. St. John plans to build 13,600 square feet of single-story office space and nearly 200,000 square feet of single-story multi-use space, which the company classifies as "flex/research and development.” The existing Bass Pro Shops and Applebee’s will continue to operate, and the building that previously housed Toys R Us will be marketed for a new use.

DON’T MISS FROM C+CT: A Distressed Mall Rethinks Its Anchor Space and Returns to Its Role as Community Hub

Nontraded REITs May Be Selling in 2024

Nontraded REITs may need to shed properties this year in order to keep up with redemption requests from shareholders, according to The Wall Street Journal. Net asset values for nontraded REITs, which attract individual investors via advisers, hit $110 billion a year ago. However, as more shares were redeemed than purchased, that figure has sunk to $96 billion, putting pressure on sponsors to sell assets to meet cash requests. Experts say redemption requests are so high and the funds’ fundraising is so low partly because investors think nontraded REITs haven’t reduced the value of their shares enough to account for declining values in the commercial property sector. Sponsors counter that their valuations accurately reflect the market and the high-quality properties they own.

ALSO FROM C+CT: The Marketplaces Industry Is Poised for a Dealmaking Boom in 2024

Kimco Closes Acquisition of RPT

Kimco Realty has closed its $2 billion all-stock acquisition of RPT Realty, adding 56 open-air centers totaling 13.3 million square feet to its portfolio. Of those properties, 43 are wholly owned.

Returns Are Coming

Americans are expected to return $148 billion in holiday gifts, representing 15.4% of all the merchandise purchased over the holiday season, according to NRF’s 2023 Consumer Returns in the Retail Industry report. Despite improvements in size/fit information and stricter return policies, retailers still face hurdles in curbing return rates. Meanwhile, return fraud is also a major concern for retailers during the post-holiday season. Return fraud and abuse caused $101 billion in losses for retailers last year. While organized crime orchestrates scams for financial gain, some individuals also engage in them to essentially get free use of products.

ICSC SMALL BUSINESS CENTER: Share with the Small Businesses You Work With
The Return Policy Playbook: 7 Tips for Small Businesses After the Holiday Rush

Openings and Closures in 2023: A Tale of Home Goods, Drugstores and Dollar Stores

Tenants closed 4,600 stores in the U.S. in 2023, an 80% increase from 2022, according to a CBS News article citing Coresight Research. Still, the 5,500 stores that opened more than offset those closures. Failed home goods retailers made up a big chunk of the closing stores. Bed Bath & Beyond, which filed for bankruptcy protection and liquidated in October, shuttered the most stores of any retailer: 866. Tuesday Morning, which filed for bankruptcy in February, came in second, with 463. Drugstores also closed a hefty sum: Rite Aid closed 335, CVS Health 300 and Walgreens Boots Alliance 172. Among the 580 closures announced thus far for 2024, CVS Health and Walgreens lead the pack. Dollar stores, meanwhile, remained a growing business in the U.S., with 1,600 openings in 2023, about one-third of all openings for the year.

Big V Has a New Chief Acquisitions Officer, and Cullinan Has a New Chief Investment Officer

Big V Property Group named Eric Zimmermann, at left, chief acquisitions officer as the company seeks to expand via acquisitions. He joined the firm in 2023 as an adviser to the executive committee. Previously, he worked for 20 years for Eastdil Secured. Zimmermann has worked on $30 billion worth of retail investment deals during his career, including the $660 million sale of Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.

And Cullinan Properties has promoted Toni Ramadani, at right, to chief investment officer. Ramadani will source and evaluate residential, retail and mixed-use development opportunities and will lead financial activity related to key projects like RockRun Collection, Cullinan’s 310-acre mixed-use development in suburban Chicago. Ramadani specializes in public-private partnerships and has helped secure more than $165 million in development incentives for various projects.

By Brannon Boswell

Executive Editor, Commerce + Communities Today


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