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NEW YORK CITY-Four regional malls owned by the locally based Lightstone Group have been placed into receivership after a mortgage on the properties fell into delinquency. Jones Lang LaSalle Retail has been named the receiver, and will be responsible for leasing, managing and conducting due diligence to determine the best course of action for the properties.

The four malls are the 335,000-square-foot Bradley Square in Cleveland, TN; the 556,000-square-foot Martinsburg Mall in Martinsburg, WV; Shenango Valley Mall, a 509,000-square-foot property in Hermitage, PA; and the 478,000-square-foot Mount Berry Square in Rome, GA. They comprise four of the five mall properties Lightstone acquired for $120 million from Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust in 2004. The fifth mall property in the PREIT deal–the West Manchester Mall in York, PA–was not included in the mortgage.

According to a release from Fitch Ratings, the $73.6-million loan on the malls was transferred to special servicing last October “due to imminent default.” The loans were given through JPMorgan Chase Commercial Mortgage Securities Trust in 2006. By the end of Q1 2008, the debt service coverage ration on the four malls had declined to 0.95, according to Fitch.

The Fitch release from December says that Lightstone “approached the lender indicating that they would like to surrender the properties and is cooperating in the appointment of a receiver.” The Wall Street Journal reported that the portfolio of malls was also carrying $18.2 million in mezzanine and secondary debt. A Lightstone spokesman did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

Published reports say J.E. Robert Cos., the loan’s servicing agent on behalf of Bank of America, filed petitions in district courts for each of the four malls to appoint a receiver after loan payments were delinquent for three consecutive months. Calls to J.E. Robert were not returned by deadline.

According to a release from JLL, the court-appointed receiver will work closely with lenders and borrowers to control and direct the use of assets until resolutions are achieved. During the receivership process, the receiver selects the most appropriate firm to manage and lease the asset, and provides recommendations for the most profitable outcome of the asset, including a possible sale, the JLL release states. All four properties are currently open for business.

Based in Lakewood, NJ with corporate headquarters in New York City, the Lightstone Group owns and manages properties in all of the major property sectors. In 2007, it acquired the Extended Stay hotel chain from Blackstone for $8 billion.

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