Queens Center owner buys Atlas Pk.

The troubled Glendale mall, The Shops at Atlas Park, has been purchased by the same company that owns Queen Center Mall.
By Joe Anuta

Macerich, the real estate investment trust that owns Queen Center Mall, will take over The Shops at Atlas Park Feb. 28, even though it was not the company that placed the winning bid in a Jan. 28 foreclosure auction.

“Once they fully close on the purchase, we can finally move forward with developing Glendale’s own shopping center,” City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) said in a statement.

Crowley met with representatives of Macerich Tuesday to discuss the future of the mall. Although a spokeswoman for the councilwoman could not discuss details, Crowley released a statement showing her support for the new California-based owners.

“Today I met with Macerich — there’s no doubt that they’re professionals and experienced with developing and running shopping malls,” she said. “I’m encouraged by their ideas for Atlas Park and I look forward to working with Macerich and the community to help Glendale’s shopping center be a success.”

Macerich, based in Santa Monica, Calif., is one of the largest owners of shopping centers around the country.

According to another person close to the deal, Macerich will run the operations on the ground, but it appeared it used capital investors to purchase the property at its $53.7 million price tag. In fact, Chicago-based Walton Street Capital was believed to have provided the funding for the property, he said.

Macerich did not show up at the foreclosure auction, and the California company’s involvement in the purchase was not immediately revealed.

Macerich and Walton Street Capital declined to comment.

David Joseph of Walton Street Capital was the representative who put in the high bid at the auction and paid the mandatory 10 percent fee shortly afterward. But he listed his company as WMAP LLC., according to Dennis Capello, the referee for the auction.

But the creation of shell companies and the often secretive relationships between existing ones is not unusual in this type of situation, according to Paul Millus, the court-appointed trustee who has run the mall since 2009.

“There is nothing miraculous about the name,” he said. “You can have companies that are created for the sole purpose of taking over property.”

But according to Crowley, Macerich is the company that will run the mall by the end of the month.

The shops started as Damon Hemmerdinger’s vision of high-end retail in Glendale about five years ago. He was the owner of the shops until 2009, but that vision did not pan out.

Declining profits and increasing tenant frustration came to a head in February 2009 when Hemmerdinger’s creditor, France-based Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, foreclosed on the $127 million loan for the property and turned over the shops to Millus, the court-appointed receiver.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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