General Growth Properties Inc., the ailing Chicago-based owner of three of the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area's largest shopping centers, says it has retained a financial firm to help it evaluate financial transactions that would enable it to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The hiring of the firm, UBS Investment Bank, is subject to U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval.
On a related upbeat note, General Growth announced earlier this week that it had completed the restructuring of 74 secured mortgage loans totaling about $9.4 million, and that as a result, 180 subsidiary debtors owning 96 properties no longer are in bankruptcy.
Among the properties emerging from bankruptcy were the Boise Towne Plaza and Boise Towne Square, both in Boise, Idaho, and the Pine Ridge Mall, in Pocatello, Idaho. However, two of General Growth's three properties herethe 1 million-square-foot NorthTown Mall, on Spokane's North Side, and the 330,000-square-foot Silver Lake Mall, in Coeur d'Aleneplus two other properties in Washington and five others in Idaho remain under bankruptcy protection.
The company's other property here, the 740,000-square-foot Spokane Valley Mall, wasn't involved in the bankruptcy filings, according to its Web site.
The restructuring of the $9.4 billion in loans followed the Bankruptcy Court's approval last month of reorganization plans for those 96 properties. The recently approved restructuring of another 16 loans totaling $2.1 billion is expected to be completed within a few weeks, the company says. That will free from bankruptcy another 36 subsidiary debtors associated with 16 properties, it says. It wasn't immediately clear whether NorthTown Mall and Silver Lake Mall are among those properties.
General Growth, a publicly traded real estate investment trust, became owner of the three malls here in 2002 when it acquired Salt Lake City-based JP Realty Inc. in a $1.1 billion transaction that included 18 regional shopping centers and 26 community shopping centers.
It now is the second-largest U.S. mall owner, with a portfolio of more than 200 regional shopping malls in 44 states, as well as ownership in master-planned community developments and commercial office buildings. It filed for protection from creditors in April 2009 so it could seek to restructure its overall $27 billion in debt.
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