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SANTA MONICA, CA-At a time when new tenants and financing are both hard to find, shopping center REIT Macerich has lined up tenants for 22 of 41 Macerich-owned Mervyns sites and has borrowed $250 million on a 1.5-million-square-foot Portland, OR center called Washington Square. The 22 Macerich-owned Mervyn’s sites will be filled by retailers Forever 21 and Kohl’s, pending approval by the court overseeing Mervyn’s bankruptcy proceedings. Forever 21 will be taking 12 of the spaces and Kohl’s will be taking 10.

Forever 21 and Kohl’s were the winning bidders in the auction of Mervyn’s leaseholds held Dec. 10, a preliminary step leading to final court approval of new tenants for the Macerich-0wned Mervyn’s sites. The court is expected to approve the leases within a month. Of the 22 locations, eight are within centers owned by Macerich.

Assuming all goes as planned, the Santa Monica-based REIT expects that Forever 21 and Kohl’s will begin to build out their spaces in January and to open the new stores throughout 2009. Macerich Macerich acquired the 41 sites in late 2007 and early this year in a sale-leaseback with Mervyn’s.

Tony Grossi, senior EVP and COO of Macerich, points out that the company has been pursuing other retailers for the Mervyn’s sites since acquiring them. The company’s strategy in acquiring them was “to gain long-term control of well-positioned retail real estate,” both in its own centers and in other properties, Grossi explains.

The sites where Forever 21 is taking space range from the Arrowhead Towne Center in Glendale, AZ to sites in California, Utah, Texas and New Mexico. Kohl’s is taking space at centers in California, Utah and Nevada.

The $250 million loan that Macerich closed on is a seven-year refinancing of Washington Square at a fixed interest rate of 6%. The transaction generated proceeds to Macerich of approximately $63 million above the previous loan.

The Washington Square loan is the latest in a round of transactions this year that brings the REIT’s financing activity 13 deals totaling nearly $1.3 billion.

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