Sunday, January 25, 2009
NWA Mall Owners Face Foreclosure
Macerich Co. of Santa Monica, California, purchased the Northwest Arkansas Mall from Tri State Joint Venture of Maryland in December 1998 for $94 million. Macerich sold it two years ago as part of a three mall package to Midwest Mall Properties, a partnership among Doyle Rogers and John Flake of Little Rock and Sam Mathias of Springdale. It was hailed by the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal as the Best Investment of the year in 2007.
Now, Crossroads Mall in Oklahoma City, the largest of the three malls owned by Midwest Mall Properties, is in foreclosure by Maiden Lane Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities Trust, and it could go on the block within 60 days. The closing of the Dillard's anchor and nine other stores in December was the fatal blow, following the exit of Penney's and Macy's since Midwest bought the property.
Why is this of concern to us here in Northwest Arkansas? Well, the company that is now operating the Crossroads Mall would not comment to Arkansas Business, and John Flake was "out of the country" and unavailable for comment. Neither of the three daily newspapers nor the bi-weekly Northwest Arkansas Business Journal have mentioned the foreclosure, and there is no indication they have asked partner Sam Mathias of Springdale what's up.
Dillard's, Inc. closed 13 stores in 2008, and retail analysts and investment bankers are questioning whether it can survive another five years. Dillard's Store Closings even has its own Yahoo Group discussion, and the corporation continues to lose money even after announcing 21 store closings. Will the Dillard's Store in Fayetteville survive the next round of closings? Will the Northwest Arkansas Mall join Crossroads in foreclosure? What impact would this have on local employment and city revenues?
Why are we the only ones asking these silly questions? I mean, we wouldn't be losing Dillard's advertising revenue, but someone might care enough to check it out. Oh, I forgot, the Northwest Arkansas Times says there is no connection between advertising revenue and the news coverage or editorial commentary. The Times also says that The Morning News is a Springdale newspaper, but, even if that were true, TMN should cover local businessman Mathias and the NWA Mall that pays property taxes in the Springdale School District.