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DALLAS-Under the gun with its AMEX listing, CabelTel International Corp. is in the process of transferring ownership in the 315,512-sf Gainesville Factory Shops. The four-year owner has been sizing up the mall’s sale for the past year.

The Gainesville outlet mall, built in 1993, is down to 49% occupancy. In an SEC filing, the Dallas-based CabelTel’s executive team reported the mall and 40 acres of vacant land are under contract to an independent third party. The buyer’s identity couldn’t be learned by press time because dealmakers are so hushed about the planned sale. CabelTel president and CFO Gene Bertcher did not respond to telephone calls seeking comment on the pending deal for the 4321 N. Interstate 35 footprint, right at exit 501 in Gainesville and a stone’s throw to the Red River and Chickasaw Nation’s WinStar Casino in Thackerville, OK.

A GlobeSt.com source has confirmed the deal’s still alive and hasn’t fallen apart like it did last year when Bertcher was in talks with Newport Beach, CA-based Craig Realty Group’s Steven L. Craig, who owns outlet malls in Hillsboro and Conroe, TX. He also did not return a telephone call to comment on if talks had resumed.

CabelTel’s minority owner is Tacco Financial Inc., an affiliate in a network of companies led by Gene Phillips of Dallas. In the SEC filing, CabelTel, which headquarters in Phillips’ Mercer Crossing at 1800 Valley View Lane, reported the unidentified third party would fund any cash shortfalls that the mall incurs until the sale closes.

When the mall sells, CabelTel’s only real estate will be the 114-resident Pacific Pointe Retirement Inn in King City, OR, the lone piece of real estate from the defunct Greenbriar Corp. This week, AMEX put CabelTel on notice that it would be de-listed at the end of the year because shareholders’ equity no longer meets the litmus test and CabelTel didn’t live up to a compliance plan, filed last year when it came under fire for the same issues. In a press release, CabelTel says it will appeal.

Gainesville Factory Shops might be struggling with occupancy, but its location has attracted two hotels, Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Cracker Barrel in the past two years, all on land either sold by or ground-leased to the outlet mall’s owner. In the past 60 days, a 71-room La Quinta Inn at 4201 N. I-35 has opened right beside a 75-key Hampton Inn & Suites–both undoubtedly tied to the success of WinStar Casinos, which is one mile north across the Oklahoma line where gambling is legal and building in significant muscle power for the outlet mall and the vacant 40 acres.

The outlet center still has brand names, such as Oshkosh, GAP, Reebok and Springmaid. But with occupancy at 49%, it’s no longer attracting the same number of busloads of bargain-hunting shoppers. Larger and newer outlets like the 650,000-sf shops in Allen and 1.5-million-sf Grapevine Mills Mall plus competition from massive retail developments in fast-growing Texas towns like McKinney, Prosper, Fairview and Denton and similar projects in Southern Oklahoma have cut into Gainesville Factory Shops’ traffic.

“Grapevine Mills Mall was one nail in the coffin and Allen was the other,” says Ian Pierce, who is in the marketing and research division of Dallas-based Weitzman Group. “Everyone learned you can’t do it on the small. We’ve seen the fallout in that only the extremely strong centers in that category have done well.”

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