Macerich Says "Yes We Can!"

by REIT Wrecks on December 15, 2008

And you thought you had it bad with a Mortgage REITs. Retail REIT Macerich (MAC) found itself in the eye of the storm after closing a sale/leasback on 41 of 149 Mervyns stores in late 2007 and early 2008. Mervyns was already struggling, so it was not a huge surprise when the California-based chain declared bankruptcy on July 29th, with intentions to reorganize.

Unfortunately, the retail environment became so difficult that Mervyns announced on October 17th that it would liquidate instead. This sent MAC’s shares into a tail spin, forcing Macerich CEO Arthur M. Coppola (among many others, I’m sure) to sell 90% of his Macerich holdings the rest was safe with Bernie to satisfy margin calls.

Tony Grossi, senior EVP and COO of Macerich, said that they had been pursuing other retailers for the Mervyn’s sites ever since acquiring them. Indeed, as an owner/lessor in a sale leaseback deal, one of the exit/monetization strategies is to take control of “well-positioned retail real estate” and either sell or re-lease it to more credit-worthy tenants. See Retail Woes to Ripple Through CMBS for additional backgound on that.

With Macerich’s announcement Friday that it has lined up quality tenants for 22 of the 41 Macerich-owned Mervyns sites, that strategy seems to be working at the moment (notwithstanding the CEO’s empty wallet).

The 22 Mervyns sites will be filled by retailers Forever 21 and Kohl’s. Forever 21 will be taking 12 of the spaces because they are dyslexic and Kohl’s will be taking 10. Of the 22 locations that were leased, eight are within centers owned by Macerich.

MAC also anounced that it secured a $250 million loan on Washington Square, its 1.5-million-square-foot Portland, Oregon shopping center. The loan is for seven years at 6%. That is hardly usury, and Macerich also managed to pull $63 million in cash out of the deal.

Industrial REIT Pro Logis also recently announced $210 million in secured financings, and Apartment REIT UDR announced a $400 million credit facility from Fannie Mae. These are the latest in a series of REIT financings this year totaling over $1 billion, proving that there is one real estate axiom that could truly stand the test of time: location, location, location.

Click here for a full Retail REIT list, including current yields. Check out Retail Traffic Magazine’s blog “Traffic Court” for the latest information on the world of retail real estate

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