Bon-Ton properties hit the selling block
Seven department store properties that were formerly owned by The Bon-Ton Stores are going up for auction.
Real estate advisory and brokerage firm A&G Realty Partners, Melville, New York, will auction the properties on Sept. 20, in Chicago. All bids for the auction, which centers on fee-owned properties in six states, are due Sept. 18. (Bon-Ton Stores filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Feb. 4.)
The stores going on the block range in size from 46,000 sq. ft. to 150,000 sq. ft., and include two locations in Michigan as well as properties in Illinois, New York, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. They were formerly operated under the Carson’s, Younkers, Elder-Beerman and Bon-Ton banners.
A&G was retained in May to dispose all real estate assets of Bon-Ton Stores on behalf of a joint venture between Great American Group, Tiger Capital Group, LLC and Bon-Ton’s Second Lien Noteholders. The joint venture is currently concluding the liquidation of all merchandise inventories, store fixtures and other non-real estate assets.
A&G co-president Andy Graiser noted that while the company has sold leases to expanding retailers such as Raymour & Flanigan and ShopRite, the Bon-Ton real estate is also attracting a wide array of novel, non-retail users.
“In general, as mall owners repurpose vacant department store space, we’re seeing rising interest among non-traditional users such as family recreation and entertainment concepts, food halls, microbreweries or even hotels, offices, multi-family residential or storage facilities,” Graiser said.
The bankruptcy auction will begin at 10 a.m. on Sept. 20 at the Chicago offices of debtors’ counsel Jones Day LLP, 77 West Wacker Dr. The auction is contingent upon receipt of sufficient bids by the Sept. 18 bid deadline.
“This auction presents an exceptional opportunity for buyers to advance their real estate strategies with well located, high-visibility big-box sites that can work for single-users or be subdivided,” said Michael Jerbich, a Chicago-based principal at A&G.
Available at auction are:
• the Carson’s at Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee, Ill. (128,000 sq. ft.);
• the downtown Richmond, Ind., Elder-Beerman (100,000 sq. ft.);
• the Younkers at RiverTown Crossings in Grandville, Mich. (150,018 sq. ft.);
• the Bon-Ton at Lockport (N.Y.) Mall (82,000 sq. ft.);
• the Elder-Beerman at Colony Square Mall in Zanesville, Ohio (58,997 sq. ft.); and
• the Bon-Ton at Lewistown (Pa.) Mall (46,660 sq. ft.)
• the Younkers at The Lakes Mall in Muskegon, Mich. (106,131 sq.ft.)
Brixmor plans to redevelop Milwaukee-area center
The Kroger Company’s lease on a vacant Pick ’n Save store at the Spring Mall shopping center in Greenfield, Wisconsin, expires soon, and center owner Brixmor has stated it will use that occasion to redevelop the property.
Spring Mall is about two-thirds empty with vacant space totaling some 123,000 sq. ft. Still doing business there is anchor T.J. Maxx with a 32,658-sq.-ft.space. The remaining GLA is occupied by Walgreens, Meyers Family Restaurant, and Sally’s Beauty Supply.
Brixmor issued a statement saying it plans to revitalize Spring Mall to “best meet the needs of the community.”
“Plans are conceptual at this stage. Still exploring options,” Brixmor senior VP of marketing Kristen Moore told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
For growth, follow privately funded college housing
America’s major universities and colleges increasingly look to private real estate developers to provide student housing, and that’s good news for retailers looking to expand, says an investment expert involved in the trend.
“Privately owned, non-university-affiliated housing is spreading phenomenally. Our investment vehicles for these projects are flying off the shelf,” said Jeff Holzman, managing director of iintoo, a social investment network that lets individual investors become partners in real estate deals.
Holzman claims that in three years investing in college housing projects, his company has never lost a dollar and that it’s the No. 1 investment category among iintoo members.
Retailers — especially digitally savvy ones — can also benefit by locating stores in or near these developments that offer predictable economic environments largely immune to macroeconomic trends.
“There’s so much opportunity for retail around this,” Holzman said. “The reality is that parents are paying for what those students are buying, and it’s a transient population with consistent needs. They come to town, they need to open bank accounts, find a place to get their bikes repaired, a place to buy computers and accessories, a place to hang out.”
Holzman warns that the college scene is not for retailers that are looking for longevity and repeat business over time.
“It’s a place for smart, progressive brands that know how to connect to customers digitally. Retailers that have found a place in the ‘shared economy’ work well here,” Holzman said. “It helps if you’re a retailer whose business is based on immediate gratification.”