Friday, September 04, 2015
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
Published: Tuesday, 1/15/2002

Franklin Park Mall gets new owner


The mall, now managed by and partly owned by Rouse Co., is to be taken over by Westfield America Trust of Australia as part of the takeover of Rodamco North America NV by Westfield, Rouse, and Simon Property Group, Inc.

The transaction, which is expected to close in 90 days after regulatory and other approvals, involves 35 malls. It was quietly announced Sunday.

What will happen to Franklin Park, a 1.1 million-square-foot complex on Monroe Street, and the mall's management has not been determined, said Catharine Dickey, a Westfield spokesman in Los Angeles.

“It's too early to really go there,” she said.

Franklin Park, which drew crowds of shoppers for the Christmas season, is part of a $5.3 billion international transaction. Franklin Park, which drew crowds of shoppers for the Christmas season, is part of a $5.3 billion international transaction.
BLADE Enlarge

A Rouse spokesman did not return repeated calls for comment yesterday.

The overall deal, which has been approved by the boards of the companies, brings an unexpectedly swift close to wrangling over assets held by Rodamco, a property company based in the Netherlands. Westfield, which owns 39 shopping centers in the United States called Westfield Shoppingtowns, has long wanted control of Rodamco's North American stores. It bought a stake in Rodamco last year and attempted a hostile takeover.

The deal gives the buyers some of America's best-performing malls based on sales, including Copley Place in Boston and Houston's Galleria. Although retail sales have decreased with the recession, Rodamco's properties generate sales of $450 a square foot, almost 50 percent above the industry average.

Rodamco and Rouse each owned half of Franklin Park, which has more than 316 stores and kiosks and is by far the healthiest and busiest of the area's four regional malls. As part of the Rodamco takeover, Westfield assumed Radamco's 50 percent stake and obtained Rouse's to fully own the mall.

Franklin Park was developed by the Rouse Co. and opened in July, 1971. Its anchor stores are Jacobson's, Marshall Field's, J.C. Penney, and Dillard's.

Although there had been speculation Westfield might seek partners in its quest for Rodamco's assets, analysts expected the Australian company would await the outcome of a lawsuit it had filed in Amsterdam over its ownership aspirations.

This deal pre-empts the court's decision, said Stephanie Fisher, a property analyst at Macquarie Equities in Sydney, Australia.

Listed only on the Australian Stock Exchange, Westfield was among the top five owners of regional shopping malls in the United States even before this transaction. After this deal, it is likely to move into the top three, Ms. Fisher said.

The transaction will give Westfield the growth into regions beyond the West Coast that it had sought.

As part of the deal, Westfield will pay $1.36 billion for its share in 14 of Rodamco's malls, including half of the Garden States Plaza in Paramus, N.J., and half of Century City Shopping Center in Los Angeles. Westfield also will assume $936 million of Rodamco debt and preferred stock.

Rouse's share is $1.45 billion and includes $675 million in debt and preferred stock. The company, based in Columbia, Md., gains eight properties, including three in new markets for the company: Chicago, Detroit, and Durham, N.C.

Simon, the nation's top mall owner, is to pay $1.55 billion, including $570 million in debt and preferred stock. The company, based in Indianapolis, plans to finance the purchase with an existing credit line. It will add 13 regional malls to its holdings.

Recommended for You

Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.