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06/21/2021

URW gives Broward Mall back to its lender

Al Urbanski
Real Estate Editor & Manager
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URW owed some $110 million in missed mortgage payments and interest on Broward Mall in Plantation, Fla.

The Westfield Broward Mall in Plantation, Fla., once one of the most popular shopping destinations in the state, has been abandoned by Unibail Rodamco Westfield. 

The property’s primary lender filed a foreclosure lawsuit in Broward Circuit Court on June 9, saying that URW has made no payments since April 2020 and owed it more than $110 million on a $95 million mortgage. 

URW, the biggest owner of retail property in Europe, released a statement saying it had returned the 400,000 sq. ft. of the mall it owned to the lender, and that it would continue to operate under a third-party manager. The remaining GLA in the mall is owned by anchors, which include Macy’s and J.C. Penney.

Other tenants at Broward Mall include H&M, Dillard’s, Regal Cinemas, Starbucks, Footlocker, and Kay Jewelers.

A veteran South Florida real estate professional told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise and the Aventura Mall in Miami-Dade County were winning the battle for traffic in the region.

“If you’re a local and you want to go shopping in a mall and you want to spend more than three or four hours in the mall, the locals will pick Sawgrass,” said Beth Azor, who owns six small malls in the state.

In January, URW announced a management reorganization aimed at confronting challenges posed by COVID-19 and setting a new course for the future. Chief investment officer Oliver Bossard and chief resources officer Astric Ponosyan were added to its management board to lead a deleveraging effort that would include dispositioning properties and directing the company’s new “Better Places 2030” strategy.

URW also reorganized into four enlarged European regions plus the United States, giving each the power to attune their operations to local market dynamics and demographics.