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Brookfield To 'Future-Proof' GGP Malls By Turning Them Into 'Mini Cities'

Brookfield has hinted at its plans for the malls it acquired late in the summer when it bought GGP in a $15B takeover.

According to Brookfield CEO Brian Kingston during the company's recent Q3 earnings call, some assets might be sold — about 25 — but most will be redeveloped.

Augusta Mall in Augusta, Ga., one of the properties Brookfield acquired when it bought GGP

"... [W]e do think within that 100-or-so core portfolio of assets on a longer-term base, introducing other uses and effectively turning them into mini-cities is really how to future-proof all of these assets," Kingston said, though he didn't go into detail about what constitutes a "mini-city."

The term does imply redevelopment from a traditional covered mall into a mix of uses, especially more experiential space, which is a well-established pattern in the retail sector now. That kind of redevelopment is underway in various places, such as at the Hillsdale Shopping Center in the Bay Area

On the whole, Kingston said the legacy GGP portfolio is currently doing well, finishing the quarter at 95.6% leased with tenant sales trending positively over the past 12 months to $744/SF — up 5% over the prior period.

Regarding any redevelopment of the properties, Brookfield will respond to what each market wants, Kingston said.

"I think that the intensity will vary, depending on which market they’re in and the size of the market and how much demand there may be locally for some of these other uses," Kingston said.

"But I think virtually all 100 of them will have that. And the other 25 may involve some repositioning in order to make them more marketable as an ultimate sale. And so you may see us do some development in that 25 bucket as well."

RPT Realty — formerly RAMCO Properties, a retail REIT that owns 58 open-air shopping centers — is pursuing a similar redevelopment strategy with select properties in its 14M SF portfolio. Renovations will begin in mid-to-late 2019 starting with four properties the company identified that will benefit from mixed-use densification and redevelopment opportunities, including Centennial Shops, an 85K SF center in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, and The Shops on Lane Avenue, a 174K SF center in Upper Arlington, Ohio, that caters to the Ohio State University community. 

Beyond the former GGP properties, Kingston said the trend of nontraditional mall tenants taking space in Brookfield's properties has not slowed.

"For example, we’ve seen the grand opening this year of three Life Time fitness centers, The Shops at Bravern, Quail Springs Mall in Oklahoma City, as well as Baybrook in Houston," Kingston said.

"And we continue to receive interest from internet-only businesses seeking to open bricks-and-mortar locations... at Natick Mall in Boston, we signed a new lease with Wayfair, an online home furnishing retailer," Kingston said.