The sale price was not disclosed, but a source with knowledge of the transaction said the M&J Wilkow firm paid around $30 million for the $60 million loan on the mall that the Union New York-based Bank had put it up for sale. The buyers then acquired the property itself from Miami-based Starwood Capital Group through a deed in lieu of foreclosure, sources said, meaning M&J Wilkow firm took title of ownership without a legal battle.
The deal adds to the tally of malls rocked by COVID selling for fractions of what they were worth before the pandemic. The crisis forced many retailers to close stores as more people shopped online, and many malls in the area are still struggling to regain foot traffic.
The Promenade also adds to the local financial carnage for Starwood, the large private equity firm founded and run by real estate investor Barry Sternlicht. Starwood divested a mall in Joliet to its lender last year, faces foreclosure in South Barrington and is set to face distress at another it owns in Chicago Ridge.
The Promenade deal not only wiped out Starwood’s stake in the property – which it bought in 2014 for $81.5 million – but it also dealt a major financial blow to Union Bank. A similar situation is about to unfold at the Arboretum Mall in South Barrington, where Union Bank recently sold a $66.3 million property-linked loan to Chicago real estate investor Rick Heidner for what sources familiar with the deal said it was about half the value of the mortgage.
A Union Bank spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment. A Starwood spokesperson declined to comment.
M&J Wilkow and Bixby have acquired a 779,000 square foot property that is 89% leased, according to a source familiar with the mall. Major tenants include Macy’s, Bass Pro Shops, Binny’s Beverage Depot and Ulta. The operator of an iPic cinema on the property announced late last year that it would close, but Houston-based restaurant chain Star Cinema Grill said in February it had signed a 15-year lease for the theater and would open it this spring.
Buying the mall is a gamble that buyers can retain existing tenants, attract new ones and find ways to attract more people to the property, which sits near the intersection of highways 55 and 355.
“We were attracted to Promenade Bolingbrook because of its anchor tenants and its location in this growing southwestern suburban commercial node,” said John Wiechart, senior vice president of acquisitions and property management. assets of M&J Wilkow. “The Promenade offers a significant opportunity for strategic redevelopment and leasing to cement its position as the region’s premier regional shopping, dining and entertainment destination.
M&J Wilkow’s portfolio includes 85 office and retail properties nationwide totaling nearly 14 million square feet, according to the company’s release. The company first partnered with Bixby last year to acquire the Outlets of Maui mall in Lahaina, Hawaii.
The Bolingbrook purchase comes as Bixby cashes in on a different suburban real estate project. The company and Chicago-based Franklin Partners last month sold OfficeMax’s former headquarters in Naperville for $73.3 million, a property they had redeveloped into a multi-tenant office building now called the Shuman.