Century III Mall gets new operator
Struggling Century III Mall soon will have a new operator, now that owner Simon Property Group has voluntarily defaulted on $78.97 million in debt on the West Mifflin property, officials said Tuesday.
Commercial real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle is being brought in to run the mall, said West Mifflin Mayor Christopher Kelly.
"We are extremely excited that we are going to get someone in there to market it," Kelly said, adding Indianapolis-based Simon has failed to invest in improving the property to draw in new retail tenants.
Simon spokesman Les Morris declined to comment. A Jones Lang LaSalle spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Kelly said he doesn't know the name of the lender that holds the mortgage on the 1.29 million-square-foot complex off Route 51. He understands that the bank has hired Jones Lang LaSalle, which is based in Chicago and has an office in Pittsburgh.
"We're very pleased that Simon Property has relinquished its chokehold" on the 32-year-old mall, Kelly said.
Kelly said he contacted Simon officials about making improvements to the complex, but "they were not concerned. They are spending tons of money in properties in more affluent areas, and they were willing to let this go by the wayside."
The mayor said he understands the default arrangement has been in the works for about a month, and details will be finalized in a few days.
A typical scenario after a default could have the lender foreclose to acquire title to a property, then look to sell to new ownership.
Century III Mall was 76.1 percent occupied as of Dec. 31, Simon's annual report for 2010 said. By comparison, the company's Ross Park Mall was 94.8 percent occupied, and South Hills Village was close behind at 94.2 percent.
The annual report said Simon Property Group was carrying $78.97 million in debt on the mall as of Dec. 31, with annual payments of $6.5 million. The debt will mature on Oct. 10, 2012.
Century III Mall opened in 1979 and was renovated and expanded in 1997 but since then has been plagued with vacancies. Allegheny County slashed the assessment on the property nearly in half in January, setting a market value of $30.6 million.
"It's in very bad disrepair," attorney John F. Cambest, who represents the West Mifflin Area School District, said of the mall. The school district is challenging the lower assessment, hoping to raise it even by a few million dollars to recoup some tax revenue, he said.
"The nature of nature of the tenants there are more dollar-store types" than the upscale retailers found at other suburban malls, Cambest said.
Century III still has Macy's, J.C. Penney, Sears and Dick's Sporting Goods as anchor stores.
Allegheny County Councilman Robert J. Macey, who also had heard of the arranged default, said the mall is an asset to the Mon Yough region. He envisions the property being redeveloped through a public-private partnership into a residential community with nearby grocery and other retail stores and other businesses.
The mall's current condition "really hurts West Mifflin. Every time they come in for a reassessment, West Mifflin is hurt," Macey said. The mall's value had been set at $71 million five years ago.
Kelly said the area around Century III Mall is improving with a new hhgregg appliance store, Marshall's discount department store, Aldi supermarket and other retailers. "We're very pleased that (Simon has) decided to let somebody else" run the mall, he said. "It's the best thing that can happen for this borough."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers players say they support Tomlin’s attempts at deception
- Rossi: It’s past time for NFL to protect players
- Steelers stalled by Seahawks, on outside of AFC wild-card picture
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger reported symptoms that led to his exit vs. Seahawks
- Week 12 — Steelers-Seahawks gameday grades
- Steelers notebook: Seahawks’ Sherman gets better of WR Brown
- Family of man accused of shooting St. Clair officer say allegations don’t fit his character
- Community mourns death of fallen St. Clair police officer
- Muslim civil rights group seeks investigation into shooting of Pittsburgh taxi driver
- Pennsylvania Game Commission reaps revenue from shale gas under game lands
- Penn State coach Franklin fires offensive coordinator Donovan