One CT mall is up for sale, while another doubles with $185m loan


As the owner of a Bridgeport-area shopping mall seeks buyers, Danbury Fair’s lines up a new $185million mortgage on the property – a vote of confidence given the multiple vacancies it doesn’t have still satisfied in its range of stores.

Macerich is among the top 10 retail operators nationwide, managing approximately 48 million square feet in nearly 50 malls and shopping centers. Danbury Fair is the company’s only shopping center in Connecticut, at the junction of Interstate 84 and Route 7 just a few miles from the New York border.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit as Macerich faced a Danbury Fair-backed loan maturing in October 2020, which he was able to extend three times until July. In March, Macerich reported the outstanding balance at $166 million, with the company averaging just over $1.5 million a month in interest on the mortgage.

The town of Danbury last valued the 178-acre property at $418 million, not including a trio of department stores owned by other companies worth $21 million more.

As executives noted the company’s negotiations for a new five-year mortgage earlier this month, Macerich signals a renewed commitment to Danbury Fair. Macerich has rebounded well from the pandemic, with Danbury Fair busy this spring for several days and the company reporting record sales per square foot for retail tenants in March.

“Interestingly, nationally, March was the first month since the pandemic hit that online sales declined compared to the same period a year ago – while in-store sales actually increased,” said Doug Healey, executive vice president of leasing. for Macerich, speaking earlier this month on a conference call. “Given the mood and health of retailers, the resurgence and importance of physical stores, the depth and breadth of uses we have to choose from, I have no reason to believe that will end soon. ”

Already struggling with a few stubborn vacancies for spacious storefronts once home to Sears and Forever 21, Danbury Fair was hit with another after the 2020 holidays with the closure of Lord & Taylor’s bankruptcy.

But the mall was able to find a replacement tenant for Brio Tuscan Grille at Barbarie’s Grill – one co-owner told CTInsider “we rolled the dice” accepting the lease at the start of the pandemic – and in recent months Danbury Fair added two new stand-alone restaurants at Shake Shack and Longhorn Steakhouse, as well as Golf Lounge 18 in the space emptied by Red Robin. Opposite Golf Lounge 18, another storefront is set up for Danbury Family Diner.

On the other side of Backus Avenue, opposite Danbury Fair, a drive-thru restaurant is planned which has not yet been identified by name, where the Pier 1 store has closed its Danbury store.

Inside the mall, the lights remain off in two two-level storefronts once occupied by Arhaus and Safavieh Home Furnishings. Macerich added “creative office space” to the mall’s list of possible tenants in an online lease listing.

Built in 1986, Danbury Fair was Connecticut‘s newest mall until the 2019 opening of The SoNo Collection in Norwalk.

Several Connecticut mall owners chose to sell before the pandemic and afterwards, with properties changing hands, including Meriden Mall, Downtown Stamford and The SoNo Collection whose developer Brookfield Properties divested its majority stake to outside investors while continuing to manage the property.

Westfield Trumbull Shopping Center could be next on the block, with its Australia-based owner recently confirming it is moving forward with plans to divest all of its 29 shopping centers in the United States.

Includes earlier reports by Currie Engel, Leeanne Griffin, Julia Perkins, Rob Ryser, Paul Schott and Luther Turmelle.

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