Parent company of North Plains Mall struggling

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Severe financial difficulties and the looming possibility of bankruptcy for the corporation that owns North Plains Mall is unlikely to cause noticeable changes at the mall for customers, a General Growth Properties spokesman said Monday.

CNJ staff

Severe financial difficulties and the looming possibility of bankruptcy for the corporation that owns North Plains Mall is unlikely to cause noticeable changes at the mall for customers, a General Growth Properties spokesman said Monday.

GGP, the nation’s second-largest mall owner, is struggling to refinance billions in debt it took on during an aggressive expansion effort that included the $7 billion acquisition of a competitor in 2004. Now the company is trying to sell properties and operating rights to some facilities to bring in enough cash to pay the bills.

GGP owns or manages more than 200 shopping malls in 44 states, including Coronado Center in Albuquerque, The Animas Valley Mall in Farmington and the Rio West Mall in Gallup.

The company’s stock has tumbled from a high of more than $40 last May to 85 cents as of closing Monday.

And it announced Friday it would delay by two weeks the release of its fourth-quarter earnings.

North Plains Mall General Manager Cindy Banister said Monday the mall is doing well and she has heard nothing of trouble in its future because of problems on the corporate level.

“It doesn’t have any impact on our mall, that’s all speculation on Wall Street,” she said.

“North Plains Mall is at an all-time high right now as far as our tenants and our sales per square foot. We have just a couple of vacancies. We’re not going anywhere.”

Jim Graham, spokesman for GGP, said Monday that even Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which is a rumored possibility for the corporation, would not change daily operation for malls.

“Regardless of what happens to GGP at the corporate level, we really don’t expect our customers to experience much of a change at their local shopping center, including North Plains Mall,” he said.

Graham also said, “Under Chapter 11, businesses are usually able to continue operating their facilities, especially in a situation where the problems are more financial rather than having to do with a lack of customers, because we do continue to have good occupancy at many of our shopping centers and plenty of customers coming in.”