Battered by the waves of online shopping and a pandemic that has gutted retail stores, Town Center at Cobb may be headed for the sales block.
In legal notices posted this month in the MDJ, Deutsche Bank Trust, in its capacity as lead lender for the mall, announced it intends to foreclose on the property. The move is tied to a $200 million loan made on the mall in 2012. A potential sale is scheduled for Feb. 2.
Home to over 170 stores, Town Center Mall is owned by Simon Property Group, which also owns Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza in Atlanta, the Mall of Georgia in Buford and Sugarloaf Mills in Lawrenceville.
A source familiar with such transactions said that even prior to the pandemic, Simon attempted to lease out parts of the mall as office space in an attempt to raise much-needed cash.
A spokesperson for Simon Property Group declined to comment to the MDJ on the legal notice.
The legal notice reads: “… Lender acting in its capacity as attorney-in-fact for Borrower, will sell at public outcry to the highest bidder for cash before the Courthouse door of Cobb County, Georgia, within the legal hours of sale on February 2, 2021, certain real property (“Land”), legally described as…” The notice goes on to describe parcels on which the mall sits.
The notice includes little other information about the mall’s financial state. Town Center was closed for over a month between March and April 2020, in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tracy Rathbone Styf, executive director of the Town Center Community Improvement District, said she did not have any knowledge of the transaction beyond what had been announced in the legal notice.
When asked what the news means for the Town Center area, Styf replied, “We have a strong track record of success in Town Center. Our community continues to be a vibrant submarket for metropolitan Atlanta with a robust pipeline of new developments and existing business expansions including Piedmont Healthcare, Zwick Roell and Edison Chastain in just the past year. We continue to be excited about the growth and development of our community.”
Matthew Norton, an Atlanta-based attorney representing the lender, did not respond to a request for comment.
Marie Moore, general manager of the mall, did not respond to a request for comment.
Town Center is not the first metro-area mall to face financial difficulties in recent months. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last February that Stonecrest Mall in DeKalb County was facing possible foreclosure.
Last week, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that North Point Mall in Alpharetta was transferred back to its lender, New York Life Insurance Co., from owner Brookfield Properties.
Coresight Research, a data firm that analyzes retail trends, estimated last year that 25% of America’s 1,000 malls will close within five years.