Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove
More bad economic news. Today General Growth Properties, the second largest mall owner in the country, declared bankruptcy. It’s considered the largest real estate failure in U.S. history. General Growth Properties and 158 of its U.S. malls filed for protection under chapter 11.
The Burbank Town Center is listed on GGP’s website as one of the properties it manages, but it is not involved in the bankruptcy filings. However, the Burbank Town Center at East Magnolia Boulevard and North First Street is a mall that is struggling to survive. Last fall, one of its anchor stores, Mervyn’s, closed when the chain went out of business; followed a few months later by the Circuit City store.
For years, the mall has had difficulty wooing the kind of retail shops and chain stores that attract local residents and the thousands of people who come into the city for work and entertainment. The Burbank Town Center has had other troubles as well. Last August, I posted a two-part story ( Security Problems at The Burbank Town Center Mall, Part Two: Is The Burbank Town Center Mall Safe? ) about charges of poor security, intimidation, and retaliation from some of the mall merchants.
Meanwhile, GGP is trying to put a positive spin on its bankruptcy. In a statement on the company website and on the Burbank Town Center site the real estate giant says: “GGP has sought bankruptcy court assistance to restructure our finances and de-leverage our balance sheet because the collapse of the credit markets has made it impossible for GGP to refinance our maturing debt outside of chapter 11. GGP’s retail centers, office properties and master planned communities will be open for business as usual as the company restructures our debt. Our properties will continue to operate, our employees will continue to come to work and get paid, and shoppers will continue to shop. ”