WORTHINGTON, OH-A venture oflocally-based Real Estate Development Advisors and Fort Worth,TX-based Morris Capital Partners is under contract to purchase the170,000-square-foot Worthington Square Mall. The property wasforeclosed in 2008 by lender General Electric CreditEquities.

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The property is 50% leased, with tenants that include Talbot’s,Chico’s and Joseph A. Bank. A Kroger Fresh Fare, self-owned, isnext door to the mall.

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A plan to add density with condos failed after the economy wentsideways, says Bill Morris, principal with the self-named firm.Columbus Retail Inc. Couldn’t service the debt after moving outtenants, and had to return the property to GE, Morris says.

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“Our plan is to reposition the, take it back to its originalopen-air feel, maybe rebrand it with a new name and new entryfeatures,” Morris says. “New amenities could include an outdoorfire pit, a children play area, and new restaurants. There’s onlytwo restaurants, and there’s several million square feet of officenearby that don’t have choices where to go eat. We’re even talkingto a developer that may build luxury apartments around themall.”

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He says the repositioning in this Columbus submarket will costseveral million. “It won’t be lipstick on a pig, we’re going tohave a completely different look and feel. We think this trade areais healthy and deserves a new retail venue with a mix of uses,”Morris says.

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Matt Greeson, city manager, said the community is pleased thatthe property has experience behind it. Morris managed theacquisition and redevelopment of the one-million-square-foot PadreStaples Mall into La Palmera Mall in Corpus Christi, TX, and REDAPresident Tom Carter developed the local Easton Fashion District.“Worthington Square is a critical asset for the entire communityand the pivotal piece to realizing the city’s emerging vision forthe Wilson Bridge Road corridor,” Greeson said in a statement.

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However, Greeson said pretty much the same thing in February2009, when GE took the mall back. The lender pitched a $5 millionrenovation project, similar to the new owner’s plans, to the cityabout eight months ago.

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Morris refused to comment on the cost of their plan, and on thepurchase price, but he said there is interest by potential tenants.“We’re currently negotiating letters of intent. Carter, who lives amile from the site, has many local and national contacts,” Morrissays.

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