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WHEATON, MD-Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton has been prepped for a massive makeover and expansion project courtesy of leading commercial real estate capital lender KeyBank Real Estate Capital’s facilitation of a $180 million senior credit facility for property owner Westfield America Inc., which is the US division of East Sydney, Australia’s the Westfield Group. The three-year financing package’s underwriter was KeyBank’s Institutional Client Group, and the syndicate on the deal was the Real Estate Syndication Group.

KeyBank Real Estate is a division of bank-based financial services company KeyCorp. “KeyBank provided us with a comprehensive commercial real estate capital solution and the full service capabilities that our company was looking for,” Westfield America CFO Mark Stefanek says of the transaction. Westfield became the sole owner of the one-million-sf retail destination in 1999 when it acquired the remaining 32% interest in the 84-acre property.

The credit facility funds will finance a massive renovation of the 1960s-era property–once known as Wheaton Plaza and originally built as a single-story open-air facility–and an approximately 180,000-sf expansion of inline space. Creating a second level by working through the property’s basement, the mall’s owner will add approximately 150,000 sf of new shopping space and reconfigure an additional 25,000 sf of existing space. There will be 50 new specialty stores, as well as a new 180,000-sf Macy’s department store, which will occupy what is now a parking lot. Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton already features among its approximately 140 stores a 225,000-sf Target Store, as well as additional anchors Hecht’s, JCPenney and a Loews Theatre.

From KeyBank’s point of view, completing the $180 million credit facility was a superior investment for three reasons–Westfield’s successful track-record as a repositioner of malls, the overall market in the area, and KeyBank’s desire to expand its real estate underwriting.

“Westfield has the ability to take an older property that could be deemed ‘tired,’ and by adding inline space, entertainment options or new anchors–or all three–reposition it as a leader in its market,” Scott Childs, Institutional Client Group vice president and senior relationship manager, tells GlobeSt.com. “And it’s a pretty sound and stable market,” he adds. “Despite its age, the mall was nearly 100% occupied and had significant sales, so the upside potential is great.”

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