Brookfield Hands 1.3M SF Georgia Mall Back To Lender
The owner of the one-time crown jewel of North Fulton County retail has given up on the property.
Brookfield Property Partners has transferred the deed to the 1.3M SF North Point Mall to its lender, New York Life Insurance Co. New York Life has tapped Trademark Property Co. to manage and operate the mall and take over plans to redevelop it.
“This is a new beginning for this property,” Trademark Property Co. Chief Investment Officer Tommy Miller told Bisnow. “North Point is a last-generation enclosed mall. But great fundamental real estate.”
Brookfield acquired the mall when it purchased mall owner General Growth Properties in 2018. A spokesperson for New York Life confirmed that it had taken back the title to the mall, but declined to comment further.
Brookfield handed back the property as part of a deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure transaction, according to Databank, an Atlanta firm that tracks real estate transactions. The loan was valued at $202M at the time of transfer, Databank's records show.
Brookfield didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. It is unclear what the property's last appraised value was.
Brookfield, the second-largest owner of malls in the U.S., is evaluating its vast mall holdings and has previously stated it will hand back certain underperforming properties to lenders and special servicers. In September, Brookfield turned over its $90M CMBS loan on a mall in Florence, Kentucky, a Cincinnati suburb, to its special servicer.
“As we look at each of these loans and their maturity relative to the value of the assets, to the extent that we think that the equity is impaired or underwater, we will certainly look at handing back some of those assets to the lenders,” Brookfield Property Partners CEO Brian Kingston said during a Nov. 6 earnings call. “I don’t want to handicap how many will end up being in that situation, but it’s a relatively small number of assets where we think the debt is in excess of the value of the asset, and the lenders may elect to take the asset back rather than restructure the loan.”
Brookfield had been approved to redevelop the mall, mainly focusing on the shuttered Sears anchor. The other three anchors at North Point Mall, Dillard's, Macy's and Von Maul, are still open.
Brookfield proposed razing the Sears and replacing it with 328 apartments and 30K SF of retail and restaurant space, as well as a 2.5-acre plaza that would connect to a planned pedestrian trail system along North Point Parkway.
"We enjoyed working with Brookfield Properties to assist in creating a dynamic mixed-use plan for a portion of the mall that brought value to our community, we wish them the best moving forward," Alpharetta Economic Development Manager Matthew Thomas said in a statement. "We also look forward to working with Trademark to bring the plan to fruition. The North Point redevelopment plan previously approved is still a good plan supported by the City."
Miller said Trademark plans to take a more “holistic view” on redeveloping the entire mall to address a “post-COVID retail paradigm shift.” He said that likely will mean less retail than Brookfield had planned.
“We're going to look at all of the options for all the stakeholders and come up with a plan we think fits best for current ownership. But it definitely includes multifamily, residential, office and hopefully hotel, a lot of uses that really weren't addressed in the Brookfield plan,” Miller said. “We still think it's a viable retail location, but we want to bring a variety of uses to a property that we believe is very strategic in the market and can become a very vibrant mixed-use community that is amenitized by retail, not dominated by retail.”
North Point Mall, at 1000 North Point Circle on the east side of Georgia 400, was developed in 1993 by Homart Development Co., a subsidiary of Sears that was acquired by GGP in 1995. It rapidly became the retail juggernaut of Alpharetta, a city 25 miles north of Downtown Atlanta.
But North Point has suffered the same fate as many of its peers around the country, as shopping has increasingly moved away from enclosed malls and either onto the internet or toward walkable, mixed-use properties. Miller declined to comment on the reasoning of Brookfield's decision to give the mall back to New York Life.
Over the past decade, the momentum in Alpharetta has shifted west of Georgia 400 as a result of the success of Avalon, the 86-acre, high-end development from North American Properties.
“Really there's a line of demarcation [with GA 400] of the haves and have-nots,” SK Commercial Realty Executive Vice President Tom Parker told Bisnow last year.
This is Trademark's first foray into Metro Atlanta. The 28-year-old Fort Worth-based company develops, invests and operates shopping centers and mixed-use properties for institutional investors. It operates 10.7M SF of commercial space across the country.
Miller said Atlanta has many of the same dynamics as Dallas-Fort Worth, Charlotte, Austin and Raleigh-Durham, all of which have seen an uptick in population and companies moving from more expensive markets.
“Alpharetta, we feel like, is one of the premier suburban environments in the country and has few parallels,” he said. “People not only just live in Alpharetta, but they work in Alpharetta. And that's very attractive to us.”