CHANDLER, AZ-In continuing attempts to shore up its balance sheet and cash flow, Macerich has partnered with Heitman for joint ownership of two trophy shopping centers. The Chicago-based Heitman paid $167.5 million for a 49.9% interest in the 1.3-million-square-foot Chandler Fashion Center and the 1.6-million-square-foot Freehold Raceway Mall in Freehold, NJ.

Representatives from the Santa Monica, CA-based Macerich were unavailable for comment, but during a recent earnings conference call, the company’s chairman and CEO Art Coppola pointed out that Macerich is dedicated to boosting liquidity on its balance sheet. One way in which this would take place, he explained, was through joint ventures. Under the terms of this particular deal, Macerich will continue managing the properties. Meanwhile, Heitman will assume a pro-rata share of the property level debt. Representatives from Heitman did not return calls seeking comment by deadline.

Dave Cheatham, president and managing principal with Velocity Development Services in Phoenix tells he isn’t surprised Macerich is trying to better its cash position through such a joint venture. Cheatham, who is not connected in any way with the partnership or either mall, says a lot of companies are getting creative about shifting their positions when it comes to trying to respond to the difficult marketplace.

Though Cheatham acknowledges he isn’t familiar with Freehold Raceway Mall on 3710 Rte. 9, the 1.3-million-square-foot Chandler Fashion Center “is a trophy property that is one of the most successful malls in Arizona. It’s in a wonderful trade area.”

Chandler Fashion Center at 3111 W. Chandler Blvd. was built in 2001 and acquired by Macerich in 2002. The property was 96% occupied at the end of 2008. Freehold Raceway Mall, checking in at 1.6 million square feet, was acquired by Macerich in 2005 and was 95% at the end of last year.

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