REAL ESTATE

Baybrook Mall’s Texas-scale expansion

BY Michael Fickes

Friendswood, Texas — The 1.2-million-sq.-ft. Baybrook Mall in Houston is getting another 550,000 sq. ft. The mall owner, General Growth Properties, and the landowner, a CDC Houston-managed entity, have formed a joint venture to carry out he project. Work will begin in early May and completed by the 2015 holiday season.

Except for outlet centers, few new shopping centers are going up today. As the economy continues to rebound, retailers are eager to open new stores in “A” locations, which, like Baybrook, are usually near 100% occupancy. Retailer demand, then, has sparked mall expansions across the country.

In an era of shopping center expansion, Baybrook’s half million plus new sq. ft. will likely rank as one of the largest.

The multi-million dollar Baybrook expansion will add more than 30 retailers, 10 restaurants and entertainment and hospitality venues to the property.

On the north side of the mall, a new 285,000-sq.-ft. lifestyle expansion connects to the existing property between Forever 21 and Dillard’s.

A 270,000-sq.-ft. power center will add a variety of big-box anchor tenants, restaurants and family-friendly activities.

To accommodate increased traffic, the expansion will also add a single-story parking deck.

The project includes the addition of a lawn the size of a football field. Envisioned as a gathering spot for the community, the lawn will provide benches and seating areas and offer play areas for kids and venues for events.


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FINANCE

Brookstone files Chapter 11; seeks sale to Spencer’s

BY Marianne Wilson

Merrimack, N.H. — Specialty retailer Brookstone Holdings Corp. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, with a plan to sell itself to Spencer Spirit Holdings, owner of the Spencer’s retail chain, for about $147 million. The purchase price comprises $120 million in cash, $7.5 million in new notes and about $18.5 million of assumed liabilities.

Under the agreement with Spencer Spirit, Brookstone would continue to operate its stores in malls and airports, along with its catalog, website and wholesale business, under the Brookstone brand.

“The retail industry continues to evolve, and staying ahead of the curve is critical,” stated Jim Speltz, Brookstone’s president and chief executive. “A partnership with Spencer Spirit provides us the canvas upon which to sketch our next chapter.”

However, Brookstone’s acquisition by Spencer Spirit may not be a sure thing. Blucoroa, the company that owns online retailer Monoprice, is reportedly preparing an all-cash bid for Brookstone, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Brookstone, which is privately held, lost $18 million in the 13 weeks through Sept. 28, up from a loss of $12 million in the period a year earlier. In its bankruptcy filing, Brookstone estimated that it has liabilities between $100 million and $500 million and assets in the same range.

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FINANCE

Hudson’s Bay Q4 profit falls on expenses; to invest in digital initiatives

BY Marianne Wilson

Toronto — Hudson’s Bay Company’s net profit for the fourth quarter fell to $29.1 million from $86.8 million in the year ago period, amid higher expenses.

The company’s sales for the quarter, ended Feb.1, rose 74% to $2.41 billion, largely driven by the inclusion of Saks, which it acquired in November 2013. Same-store sales rose 6.6%, with an increase of 5.2% at its namesake stores, a 3.1% increase at Saks, and a decline of 1.3% at Lord & Taylor.

The company will make a significant digital investment applying the lessons from Saks’ more developed e-commerce to its other chains, according to The Globe and Mail.

"Following our acquisition of Saks in November, we have developed a strategic roadmap with four core growth strategies," stated Richard Baker, HBC’s governor and CEO. "First is the expansion of HBC Digital to drive sales across all of our banners. Second, we will prioritize the expansion of Off 5th, Saks’ value-oriented format.”

Baken said the retailer plans to significantly increase Off 5th’s presence through new stores and digitally.

“Expansion of Saks into Canada is our third major strategy,” Baker said. “We believe the Canadian market represents an opportunity for up to seven full-line Saks Fifth Avenue locations and up to 25 Off 5th stores, as well as digital commerce initiatives.”

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