LONE TREE, CO-As part of its $12.6-billion cash and debt assumption purchase of the Rouse Co., Chicago-based General Growth Properties will acquire the Park Meadows Town Center, one of the premier regional malls in the Denver area. Park Meadows, with 1.6 million sf, is also the largest mall in the metro area.

While Park Meadows is the only Rouse holding in Colorado, the Columbia, MD-based company has other local ties. In the 1980s, it was the original operator of the Shops at Tabor Center in Downtown Denver, an unanchored center in the Westin hotel and office complex. TrizecHahn originally developed Park Meadows, one of the top malls in the country as far as price per square foot sales and only second to the Taubman-owned Cherry Creek shopping center in the metro area.

“Park Meadows opened Aug. 31, 1996, so almost exactly eight years ago,” Pam Schenck, general manager of Park Meadows tells GlobeSt.com. Rouse bought Park Meadows from TrizecHahn a couple years after it opened. Schenck notes that Rouse several weeks ago bought the vacated 200,000-sf Lord & Taylor department store at Park Meadows, which it plans to raze and redevelop into smaller shops.

“The purchase has been made,” Schenck notes. So unless General Growth comes up with a better idea for the Lord & Taylor site, she says they plan to go forward with existing plans. The redevelopment of Lord & Taylor is being watched nationwide, as it is considered a creative way to deal with an empty department store in an extremely well-performing mall. The Lord & Taylor store closed as part of a national decision made by its parent, St. Louis-based May Co.

General Growth owns Southwest Plaza regional mall in the Denver area, as well as the Chapel Hills mall in Colorado Springs. The only disadvantage to having Rouse as an owner is that Park Meadows was kind of a “Lone Ranger,” because the company had no other local holdings, Schenck says. She thinks General Growth will be able to create synergy with its other holdings in the state, which should allow it to bring new tenants to Park Meadows.

Local retail consultant Mary Beth Jenkins, principal of the Laramie Co., says General Growth has been on a buying spree, snapping up very high-end malls. “They seem to be targeting higher-end properties, and the purchase of Rouse Co. confirms that,” Jenkins tells GlobeSt.com. “There will be some economies of scale with its purchase. This also is the latest sign that shows the consolidation in the industry.”

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