Simon Property Group, a mega investor of shopping malls across the U.S., is turning over Southridge Mall in Greendale to lenders through a friendly foreclosure, according to national media reports. Indianapolis-based Simon told bond investors in a monthly property report it was giving up on four of its mall properties, according to reporting from national outlets. This included friendly foreclosures of Southridge Mall and one other. Simon also revealed it would no longer inject capital into two of its other malls. New York-based Kroll Bond Rating Agency confirmed on Monday that Simon noted in monthly transaction documents it intended to relinquish interest in the four properties. According to a KBRA report, the mall properties were producing net cash flow that was notably below net cash flow generated at the time of origination. Representatives of Simon and Southridge Mall did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment. The news comes less than a month after the former Boston Store at Southridge Mall was put up for online auction, along with two other local Boston Store buildings. None of the three buildings were reportedly sold following the auction due to bids being too low. Many shopping malls have struggled as buyers increasingly make their purchases online. The movement to online shopping has only hastened this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Simon notes its tribulations in its third-quarter earnings report. "Our properties compete with other forms of retailing such as pure online retail websites as well as other retail properties such as single user freestanding discounters," such as Costco, Walmart and Target, according to the earnings report. The report continues, "Our business currently is predominantly reliant on consumer demand for shopping at physical stores, and we could be materially and adversely affected if we are unsuccessful in adapting our business to evolving consumer purchasing habits. The increased popularity of digital and mobile technologies has accelerated the transition of a percentage of market share from shopping at physical stores to web-based shopping, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions intended to prevent its spread have significantly increased the utilization of e-commerce." The future of malls is bleak, according to some industry experts. "I believe that 80% of the remaining malls in the United States are going to collapse in the coming two or three years," Nick Egelanian, president of SiteWorks Retail Real Estate Services, said during the recent Commercial Association of Realtors Wisconsin's virtual retail conference. "That's going to leave Milwaukee probably with only one regional mall when it's all said and done." Egelanian said the types of retail that should remain successful in the coming years includes specialty retail businesses such as entertainment and restaurants. Meanwhile, the enormous extra square footage at shopping malls formerly dedicated to retail will have to be converted to other uses, he said. That will require a lot of new investment.
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