Developer considers selling Shops at Wiregrass
WESLEY CHAPEL – Cleveland-based Forest City Realty Trust Inc. is considering hanging a for-sale sign on its malls and retail centers, including the Shops at Wiregrass.
Forest City announced earlier this week that it was studying “strategic alternatives for the company’s retail portfolio’’ of 14 regional malls and 19 specialty retail centers. The review is expected to be completed in early 2017 with an eye toward funneling proceeds from its mall sales, if that is the preferred alternative, into expanding its holdings in apartments, offices and mixed-use projects.
“They are reviewing just to see what the options are and we do fall within that group,’’ said Greg Lenners, general manager of the Shops at Wiregrass.
It doesn’t necessarily mean any property will change hands. The company’s announcement included the caveat that “there can be no assurance that this review process will result in any transaction being announced on consummated.’’
The Shops at Wiregrass, a 642,000-square-foot open-air mall, commonly referred to as a lifestyle center, opened in 2009 at the corner of State Road 56 and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. Its anchors include Dillard’s, Macy’s JCPenney and 100 other stores. Currently, it is 93 percent occupied, said Lenners.
The company review of its retail portfolio does not change Forest City’s pending expansion on 34 acres immediately east of the Shops at Wiregrass, said Lenners. The company is proposing a 1,035-seat cinema as the cornerstone of a residential and commercial development on the north side of State Road 56. The project also would include 250 upscale apartments, as many as four restaurants and nearly 60,000 square feet of stores, including a 30,000-square-foot specialty grocery.
“It’s business as usual,’’ said Lenners. “We’re still moving forward with that.’’
The company is awaiting permit approvals from Pasco County, the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the project. Earlier this year, Forest City said it hoped to have the federal permit in hand by the end of 2016.