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Case Study

Open-Air Services: Value-oriented mall makeovers

Open–Air Services – Our dedicated open-air recognizes that open-air concepts such as power centers, lifestyle centers, big box power centers and grocery anchored strip malls have challenges that are unique and often different from traditional retail.  Our seasoned team of experts relies on decades of experience, leveraging their relationships throughout the country and to provide customized services that meet the demands of this ever growing retail sector.

As part of a settlement, Merrill Lynch Capital took ownership of eleven at-risk open-air Class B and C malls scattered across seven states.  The new owners wanted to dispose of the properties as soon as possible, but first they had to be financially stabilized.  This was no easy task since the previous owner’s accounting practices were very substandard.  Our Retail group’s coast-to-coast presence and experience won an assignment to help shore up the properties, increasing their value enough to interest buyers.

Our recovery “SWAT team” began with an analysis and reorganization of all tenant files and accounting data to create realistic operating budgets at each property.  We also conducted property and market analyses to determine each location’s strengths and weaknesses, resulting in a timetable for when marketing each property. 

Then we worked on a cure for each one.  Our management team addressed deferred maintenance items and determined needs for capital improvements to increase value.  This alone helped stem the tide of vacating retailers unhappy with property conditions.  Among those that stayed, we worked diligently to identify and collect the significant volume of tenant receivables.   

In less than a year, deferred maintenance projects have been essentially completed, and more efficient programs have reduced ongoing expense.  Outstanding tenant delinquencies have been reduced by 42 percent, a value of $110,000.  Sell-versus-lease decisions for two grocery anchors will generate interim income for Merrill Lynch, as each property continues on a steady course to market.

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