Closing on Southlake Mall sale delayed

New owner likely to make significant improvements, analysts say
2002-03-15T00:00:00Z Closing on Southlake Mall sale delayedCARMEN McCOLLUM Times Business Writer nwitimes.com
March 15, 2002 12:00 am  • 

Cleveland-based Richard E. Jacobs Group's deal to sell Southlake Mall and eight other malls will close a little later than expected.

The Jacobs Group announced in December that it would sell nine regional shopping malls to Westfield America Trust in a transaction valued at $756 million. Westfield will assume $506 million in debt and issue $210 million in equity to the Jacobs Group.

Jeff Linton, a spokesman for the Jacobs Group, said the definitive agreement was just signed within the last week.

"The original expectation was that the deal would close in the first quarter but I think arriving at the definitive agreement was a little more complex than they had planned at the outset," he said. "It was signed about a week ago. Westfield made a minor announcement at the time."

Linton believes the closing could take place at the end of April.

The nine properties total about 9.8 million square feet and include 36 anchor stores and approximately 1,150 specialty shops.

The Jacobs Group employs about 75 people at Southlake Mall and it's not clear if any of them will be retained at this point.

A representative from Westfield, whose parent company is based in Australia, could not be reached for comment, but the company previously said Southlake Mall would likely be renovated and renamed.

Analysts have said Westfield has an excellent reputation, and would likely make significant capital improvements to the mall.

Southlake Mall, anchored by J.C. Penney, Sears, Carson Pirie Scott and L.S. Ayres, had been for sale since August 1999. It has undergone extensive renovation during the past few years and recently added a 32,000-square-foot food court.

The Richard E. Jacobs Group has long been one of the nation's most established and respected owners, developers and managers of commercial real estate.

Linton said Jacobs, who is in his mid-70s, wanted to sell the mall properties as part of his estate planning.

Jacobs has five other mall properties that he intends to sell, but will continue to exist as a development company, much smaller than it was and less involved in owning and operating retail companies, but still involved in development.

Carmen McCollum can be reached at carmenm@howpubs.com or (219) 662-5327.

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