The sale price was not disclosed, but a source with knowledge of the transaction said the M&J Wilkow venture paid in the range of $30 million for the $60 million loan on the mall that New York-based Union Bank had been marketing 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 the M&J Wilkow venture took the title to the property without a legal battle.
The deal adds to the tally of COVID-rattled shopping centers 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 big private-equity firm founded and run by real estate investor Barry Sternlicht. Starwood handed over a mall in Joliet to its lender last year, is facing foreclosure at one in South Barrington and is on the verge of facing distress at another it owns in Chicago Ridge.
The Promenade deal not only wiped out Starwood’s equity in the property—which it bought in 2014 for $81.5 million—but it also dealt a big financial blow to Union Bank. A similar situation is poised to play out at the Arboretum of South Barrington shopping center, where Union Bank recently sold a $66.3 million loan tied to the property to Chicago real estate investor Rick Heidner for what sources familiar with the deal said was about half of the value of the mortgage.
A spokesman for Union Bank did not respond to requests for comment. A Starwood spokesman 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 shopping center. Anchor tenants include Macy’s, Bass Pro Shops, Binny’s Beverage Depot and Ulta. The operator of an iPic movie theater on the property announced late last year it would shutter, but Houston-based dine-in movie theater chain Star Cinema Grill said in February it had signed a 15-year lease for the theater and would open it this spring.
The mall purchase is a wager that the buyers can retain the existing tenants, lure new ones and find ways to draw more people to the property, which sits near the intersection of interstates 55 and 355.
“We were attracted to The Promenade Bolingbrook because of its strong anchor tenants and its location in this growing southwest suburban retail node,” M&J Wilkow Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Asset Management John Wiechart said in a statement. “The Promenade offers significant opportunity for redevelopment and strategic leasing to solidify its position as the area’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 statement. The firm teamed with Bixby for the first time last year to acquire the Outlets of Maui shopping center in Lahaina, Hawaii.
The Bolingbrook purchase comes as Bixby cashes out of a different suburban real estate project. The firm and Chicago-based Franklin Partners last month sold the former OfficeMax headquarters in Naperville for $73.3 million, a property they had redeveloped into a multi-tenant office building now called the Shuman.