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Independence Center Mall gets new owner and operator

Independence Center Mall, which faced a foreclosure sale on Friday, got a new operator.
Independence Center Mall, which faced a foreclosure sale on Friday, got a new operator. along@kcstar.com

The Independence Center Mall has a new operator that says it plans to reverse the fortunes the mall has experienced.

Pacific Retail Capital Partners, a retail operator based in southern California, announced Friday it is the mall’s new operator. The enclosed mall at 18801 E. 29th St. was scheduled for a foreclosure sale on Friday after its owner, Simon Property Group, was unable to pay off a $200 million loan.

“We plan to reinvigorate Independence Center,” Najla Kayyem, senior vice president of marketing for Pacific Retail Capital Partners, said in a written statement. “We have a reputation for improving assets and creating a unique strategic vision for each property we manage. We plan to bring back community engagement events and focus on leasing and localization to increase occupancy and attract the best mix of tenants to the space.”

Kayyem said the new owner of the mall was Independence Owner LLC, but did not have more details about the ownership group. A Missouri Secretary of State business database did not list files of incorporation for Independence Owner LLC on Friday afternoon.

The mall has 120 stores, anchored by Sears, Dillard’s, Macy’s, Dicks Sporting Goods and a newly added H&M clothing retailer.

The Star reported last year that Indianapolis-based real estate investment trust Simon Property Group could not pay the $200 million loan and that the note had been transferred to a special servicer.

The note went into default in January, leading to the prospect of a foreclosure sale.

The Independence Center Mall’s troubles were emblematic of the difficulties that enclosed malls face. The mall opened in 1974, they heyday of large retail shopping centers of its type. But over the years, the expenses associated with operating large enclosed malls and the shift in consumer tastes toward online shopping and open-air shopping centers has led to hardships.

There were once 11 enclosed malls in the Kansas City area, but the closure of malls like Indian Springs Mall in Kansas City, Kan., and Bannister Mall in southeast Kansas City reduced that number to three.

Ward Parkway Mall at 86th and State Line Road is one. Oak Park Mall in Overland Park is still operating, although it learned that Nordstrom, one of its main tenants, would be departing to the Country Club Plaza.

Pacific Retail Capital Partners said it had big plans for Independence Center Mall.

“The current tenants of Independence Center can rest assured that we are committed to the success of this property,” said Gary Karl, chief operating officer of Pacific Retail Capital Partners. “We will apply our experience and will work with our leasing partners, to improve on the property’s retail and restaurant mix to ensure the center best serves the local market.”

Steve Vockrodt: 816-234-4277, @st_vockrodt

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