Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wall Street Journal takes notice of Mall at University Town Center

The Mall at University Town Center
Courtesy of Manatee County Government Information Outreach
The Wall Street Journal is starting to take notice of the impending opening of the  Mall at University Town Center.

That national media outlets would swoop in to do big pieces on the mall's role in America and using the Mall at UTC for a prop for a story, was bound to happen, even though the local construction doesn't represent a national mall rebound trend.

Robbie Whelan from the WSJ on the mall madness and where Taubman plays into all of this:

That was a common event from the 1980s through the early 2000s when mall construction boomed. But new mall development has slowed to a trickle in recent years, falling from more than 25 million square feet of gross leasable space added in 2001 to less than four million each year starting in 2010, according to Green Street Advisors. Only eight new malls have been built in the U.S. since 2008, Green Street says.

Taubman, a real-estate investment trust based in Michigan, has been an exception to the rule. The company currently has three domestic projects under way in Sarasota, Hawaii and Puerto Rico — with a combined cost of $905 million to the company — as well as two malls planned for China and one for South Korea, with a combined cost of $560 million.

Taubman is building because it believes its projects are located in markets that are underserved by retail, and because of the mall owner's track record of attracting high-quality tenants. Sarasota, for example, will "fill the void between Tampa and Naples" for upscale, destination retail, the company said. The mall's retail space was 90% committed months before the opening, Taubman said.
I visited the topic of malls in the national spotlight in a column in March when CBS "Sunday Morning" talked about how no new indoor malls have been built since 2006, but they overlooked both the Mall at UTC and Taubman's Salt Lake City Creek Center that opened in 2012, which was partially indoors. Basically, outlets kept repeating a line about mall construction from a 2009 WSJ article and never bothered to check to see if it was still true years later that no new malls opened or were under construction since 2006.

As Whelan notes above, Green Street Advisors say eight new malls have been built since 2008, but I can't verify the specificity of that item. That probably includes outdoor malls/outlets as well. The International Council of Shopping Centers provided data on indoor mall openings to me in March citing only one in Arkansas and Salt Lake City as indoor malls that opened since 2006.

The WSJ story also revisits Taubman's deal of it selling off seven malls.

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