Garden State Plaza NJ up for sale as Unibail seeks to get rid of US malls

The French commercial real estate company that owns the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus plans to sell the sprawling mall as it seeks to divest itself of a portfolio of US properties valued at $13.2 billion.

Paris-based Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield wants to focus more on its main sites in Europe and is embarking on a “drastic reduction of financial exposure in the United States”, the company told investors last week.

It was not immediately clear how much the Paramus complex might fetch or who the interested buyers might be. Unibail did not respond to messages requesting more information this week.

The Paramus site was valued at $2.71 billion, or about $950 per square foot, in a 2018 CNBC Study prepared by research firm Boenning & Scattergood, making it the ninth most valuable in the country at the time.

“It’s probably one of the most profitable and valuable in the entire portfolio,” Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera said of the Paramus Mall location.

Yet the four years since that study have brought monumental disruption to the retail industry, from COVID-related lockdowns to the popularization of e-commerce, supply chain issues and inflation. galloping.

Unibail’s proposed sale was first announced by the the wall street journal.

The company owns 85 shopping centers across Europe and the United States, including the underground mall at the World Trade Center site in Manhattan. It plans to divest its US properties by the end of next year, CEO Jean-Marie Tritant told investors.

“This is the start of an exciting journey for [Unibail] it will reshape the business to focus on our core strengths in Europe … and unlock the value of our asset portfolio to drive sustainable growth by 2024,” he said in a prepared statement.

Malls across the United States were looking to reinvent themselves even before the pandemic hit, as more consumers turned to online shopping. Westfield in 2019 announced plans for a major overhaul which would reuse an empty JC Penney and replace parking lots with a mix of commercial and residential development

This project is being implemented in phases and negotiations are still ongoing for a residential developer, said Olivier Bossard, Unibail’s chief investment officer, at the company’s investor conference last week.

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Potential buyers

Black Friday at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus on Friday, November 27, 2020. Things are quiet early in the morning as a few people enter the mall near the Big Santa.

The Garden State Plaza is near several other major mall operators who stand out as potential buyers, said Artie Baris, commercial realtor with Coldwell Banker Realty in Fort Lee. Real estate companies tend to buy and sell within their own industry, he said in an interview.

“They trade with each other, they sell with each other,” Baris said.

North Jersey shopping center operators, including the owners of American Dream Meadowlands in East Rutherford, the largest in the country, did not respond to messages asking for their potential interest.

Brookfield Properties, which owns Paramus Park Mall and Willowbrook Mall in Wayne; Urban Edge Properties, owners of downtown Bergen on Route 4 in Paramus; and Simon Property Group, which operates The Shops at Riverside in Hackensack and Rockaway Townsquare in Morris County. also did not respond.

Bonny J. Streater