MALL FOR SALE

Cafaro Co., the owner of the Mall of Monroe, is looking to unload its only Michigan property, which, excluding Target, has about a 90 percent occupancy rate.

REPRINT FROM MORNOE EVENING NEWS

BY DANIELLE PORTTEUS

dportteus@monroenews.com

The Mall of Monroe is up for sale. Cafaro Co., the mall’s Youngstown, Ohio- based owner, confirmed it has listed the 502,579- square- foot mall at 2121 N. Monroe St. Colliers International, a commercial real estate company, has been contracted to sell the property.

The listing price is $14.95 million.

“ It is our intent to continue operating the mall and still looking to find new and interesting tenants, but where our future acquisitions are concerned, we are divesting properties that are not considered our core properties,” said Joe Bell, director of corporate communications at Cafaro.

The Mall of Monroe opened as Frenchtown Square Mall in 1988. The facility received an interior upgrade in 2009 estimated between $5 million and $ 10 million. At that time, the facility’s name changed.

The Mall of Monroe is among 13 enclosed malls around the nation owned and operated by Cafaro. Mr. Bell said it is the company’s only Michigan location.

The shopping center is anchored by Carson’s, Carson’s Home Store, Pat Catan’s, Phoenix Theatres and Planet Fitness.

“Several of our properties in other states are clustered, but the Mall of Monroe is our only property in Michigan,” Mr. Bell explained. “ We are hopeful another mall developer will be interested in making this location part of its portfolio.”

Though malls across the country have been struggling to maintain shoppers because of competing online retailers and general shopping behavior changes, Mr. Bell said that is not the reason why Cafaro is looking to sell its Monroe location.

In the meantime, the company plans to continue searching for retailers to fill its facility. Currently, the mall has about 40 retailers and its occupancy is about 90 percent, Mr. Bell said.

That figure does not include the Target property, which was closed in early 2015. Target still owns the space, not Cafaro.

James McDevitt, Frenchtown Township supervisor, said the township had not received anything official from Cafaro regarding the sale, but he said he heard about it “through the grapevine.”

“I’d like to see them sell it and get someone in there who can generate more traffic and reach out to the community,” Mr. McDevitt said.

The mall, he said, is “quite important” to the area.

“The good news is someone can come in here and help keep people in Monroe instead of people going to Southgate or Toledo to shop,” Mr. McDevitt said. “ We just don’t have any big box stores to draw people in.”

Cory Jacobson, the owner of Phoenix Theatres, said he was notified a while ago about the plan to sell the mall, but those plans will not interrupt the expansion.

“ It’s not earth- shattering news,” he said. “But it doesn’t affect us other than we really liked our landlords.”

Tim Lake, director of the Monroe County Business Development Corp., said if Cafaro is listing the property for sale, then the corporation would support that strategy.

“ Commercial properties are turned over on a regular basis with generally good results for both the sellers and buyers,” Mr. Lake said Tuesday.

Mr. Bell said Cafaro still believes the Mall of Monroe is “viable.”

“ I think it has a lot of potential and our leasing department is still in talks with new tenants,” he said. “ The Phoenix Theatres is in the midst of a renovation project, and there will be a huge draw for that. We think another mall developer will be able to find potential tenants in hospitality and may keep the mall viable.”

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