By JACK WEATHERLY
Northpark Mall, a fixture on County Line Road since 1984, has been sold by Simon Property Group to Pacific Retail Capital Partners of El Segundo, Calif.
The 958,000-square-foot mall, which is on the Ridgeland side of the mile-long retail corridor, was bought along with The Galleria in White Plains, N.Y. and the Esplanade in Kenner, La., according to a release from Pacific Retail.
The private company declined to reveal the purchase price, but Najla Kayyem, vice president for marketing, said in a telephone interview that the three properties appraise for more than $200 million.
“In addition to our hands-on management and inventive marketing programs, at Northpark we are exploring the potential to add retailers that will be new to the market but fit the area demographics and demand. We also will be refreshing the space to make it more attractive and inviting, and bringing greater and more diverse dining options,” Managing General Partner Steve Plenge said in a release.
The mall has retailers and eateries such as Dillard’s, Belk, JCPenney, H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Footlocker and Sephora.
It has lost some prestige tenants – such as Williams-Sonoma, Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry, Abercrombie and Fitch, Brookstone, Ann Taylor and Gap – in the past decade to newer malls.
However, it has scored in recent years with retailers such as H&M, a popular Sweden-based. A spokesman for Simon last year said that the average occupancy rate its malls was about 96 percent and that Northpark was “in line with that.”
Another measure, sales per square foot, might not have met the benchmark for Simon, a publicly traded real estate investment trust.
Pacific Retail’s adding of the three malls brings its portfolio to 11 malls, about one tenth the size of Simon Property‘s, the largest commercial real estate firm in the nation.
That could work in favor of Northpark, according to Marshall Loeb, president and chief executive of EastGroup Properties of Jackson.
“They’ll certainly be able to put more time and attention to it,” Loeb said in an interview. Northpark has not undergone a major renovation since 1998.
Indianapolis-based Simon, on the other hand, “is like the New York Yankees” and a farm club is still a farm club, even with a big operator, Loeb said.
Loeb was with Glimcher Realty Trust, which was purchased in January 2015 by Washington Prime Group, a spinoff from Simon in May 2014.
It says something in favor of Northpark that it was not included in the underperforming properties that formed the new Washington Prime, Loeb said.
Pacific Retail has a two-pronged approach to leasing – national and local, said Najla Kayyem. And it would entertain proposals from small firms that might want to grow into a serious player, Kayyem said.
The new owners would throw their weight behind a business improvement district proposed by both the city of Ridgeland and Jackson. The effort has not gotten a great deal of traction, especially from large operators.
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