Yesterday a friend of mine posted a brief video on social media of the ghost town that the Exton Square Mall has become. So I took a couple of screenshots for this post.
It’s creepy empty at this point. It used to be a thriving mall. Sometimes I have wondered if this mall ghost town has been created by shifting retail trends or by mall owner design?
I ask if by design because there have been plans floating around West Whiteland for a while about developing a lot of the mall into apartments which makes perfect sense to developers because what else can you shove into communities around here besides crappy all look the same Lego looking apartments or cheek to jowl lemming like townhouse developments, right? Especially in West Whiteland, right? [CLICK HERE TO GO TO WEST WHITELAND’S WEBSITE]
Anyway some recent news will just make you wonder even more what is up. First there was the interesting blog article on More Than The Curve about Plymouth Township according to PREIT who owns that and Exton Square Mall, “ghosting” the mall owners. Apparently Plymouth Township isn’t interested in their mall dream of apartment Valhalla? (And yes kinda like the mall dream Valhalla proposed for Exton Square Mall.)
That definitely made me think. I mean if heavily developed Plymouth Township doesn’t seem so interested in this why should West Whiteland Township be a Guinea Pig here?
But Vista Today pointed out yesterday some even more troubling and interesting news concerning mall owners PREIT. (PREIT a stands for Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, incidentally.) Vista pointed out a potential board shake up worthy of Succession (HBO MAX series). 7 board members tendered resignations:
Among the resigners were Chairman and CEO Joseph Coradino, Temple University Interim President JoAnne Epps, George Alburger, Michael DeMarco, Mark Pasquerilla, Charles Pizzi, and John Roberts. Each received more withheld votes than votes for as they were up for reelection. PREIT’s proxy statement requires that board members who get more withheld votes than votes for must tender their resignations.
Also covered by More Than The Curve:
Sooooo….is this God opening a window to let some reality in (you know God closes a door, opens a window of it all?) Maybe West Whiteland can just pause the thought of any redevelopment there at Exton Square Mall until they get their sheit together at PREIT? Oh and did you know Vanguard Group has their paws in PREIT? Read that in an Inquirer article.
The latest sign of trouble at the huge Philadelphia-area mall owner could be a sign of a sale to come.
Published June 8, 2023
In a major shake-up for the Philadelphia area’s largest shopping-mall owner, seven Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) directors, including CEO Joseph F. Coradino, offered to resign from the board after a majority of shareholders refused to support them in recent elections.
Although PREIT’s malls are mostly occupied and sales are strong, the company owes creditors almost $1 billion. Debt service costs have strained its financial performance, and its share price has fallen below $1. Last December it was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.
The shake-up occurred when PREIT held its annual shareholder meeting on June 1, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing released Wednesday.
Shareholders include large-money managers led by Vanguard and BlackRock, activists who have been pressing PREIT to improve results, and individual investors. They collectively withheld around one million votes from each of the sitting directors, leaving fewer than 600,000 cast for most of them. Coradino did slightly better than his board colleagues, but still failed to win a majority.
According to the company’s corporate governance guidelines, those who did not win a majority of votes must offer to resign. Shareholders also rejected the board’s compensation proposal for Coradino and other top executives, by a ratio of 3-1.
Within 90 days of the certification of the board meeting’s results, board leaders will have to decide whether to accept the resignations. According to the SEC documents, the directors ran unopposed but still couldn’t win majorities from those voting.
Now a ghost town mall sitting there is not so fabulous but West Whiteland and municipalities with PREIT properties that are floundering maybe shouldn’t have to entertain their grand plans for redevelopment while this corporate fallout is swirling around? I mean why approve yet more apartment and lemming friendly development if you don’t even know in what form at this point this company will shake out at?
Seems like the proverbial hot mess to me, doesn’t it?
If you ever wondered if giving municipalities in Pennsylvania the ability to have a temporary moratorium on development was a good idea, this is a great example where it would be a great idea. Hit the pause button already. I mean in 2022 it was announced that Exton Square Mall was being sold to a developer yet that didn’t seem to actually happen?
—The owner of Exton Square Mall in West Whiteland has entered into an agreement to sell the property.
The announcement was made during a 20-minute earnings call Tuesday, March 15, as the mall’s owner PREIT (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust) discussed 2021 year-end and first quarter 2022 results.
PREIT Chairman and CEO Joseph Coradino said the company had executed an agreement of sale late Monday to sell the mall to a developer.
No specifics were provided, in terms of sale price or who the buyer is.
“As we have said previously, this property is better suited as mixed-use,” Coradino said on the call. “This sale will allow the builder to fulfill that destiny.”
Exton Square Mall has just over 1 million square feet of space, is 52% occupied and has sales of $283 per square foot, according to information on the PREIT website.~ POTTSTOWN MERCURY March 16, 2022
….And then that deal fell through didn’t it?
PREIT is still searching for a buyer for Exton Square Mall to shore up cash as a pivotal loan deadline inches closer, writes Paul Schwedelson for the Philadelphia Business Journal.
Recently, PREIT added Plymouth Meeting Mall to the malls it is attempting to sell.
Last spring, Brandywine Realty Trust was set to buy Exton Square Mall for $28.8 million, but that deal fell through.~ VISTA TODAY May 8, 2023
Philadelphia Inquirer: Facing almost $1 billion in debt, Philly mall owner PREIT emphasizes strong sales and high occupancy
Pennsylvania largest mall operator faces severe headwinds and says it’s exploring all possibilities for the future.
by Jake Blumgart
Updated on Jun 4, 2023, 5:00 a.m. ET
It isn’t the best time to be the largest mall owner in Pennsylvania, especially with a debt load of almost $1 billion coming due at the end of 2023.
That’s why the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) has spent the last few years shedding weaker properties and adding medical, residential, and experiential entertainment in locations where retail sales have softened.
“We’ve got a quality portfolio,” Joseph F. Coradino, CEO of PREIT, saidin a recent interview. “At the end of the day, it’s as good as the assets you own. That’s an important point because when one thinks about investing in a [Real Estate Investment Trust] you get caught up in extraneous details.”
In recent years, PREIT has faced the devil’s own details.
A major bet on the Fashion District, a high-end renovation of Center City’s Gallery mall in collaboration with Macerich, soured rapidly after the pandemic struck mere months after it opened. It is currently 79% occupied, the second weakest performer in PREIT’s portfolio after the half-vacant Exton Square Mall — which the company is struggling to sell….PREIT’s share price, meanwhile, fell dramatically from over $166 five years ago to $2.60 last December when it was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. As of late May, the price had fallen further still to a mere 55 cents….On the company’s first-quarter earnings call, CFO Mario C. Ventresca named the Exton and Plymouth Meeting malls as examples of sites the company would still like to sell. The Philadelphia Business Journal reported in early May that a sale of Exton Square Mall to Brandywine Realty Trust had fallen through….”With Exton, we’ve kind of decided that the best group to develop it is us,” he said. “We’ve identified several tenants that we’re working with.”
At Plymouth Meeting — which has among the lowest occupancies of the core malls at 85.4% — Coradino said PREIT’s efforts to diversify into residential development have been stymied by local politics. The company wants to add 750 housing units to the site.
“Plymouth is the one where we’re banging our head against the wall,” Coradino said. “Plymouth has just been a bear. The township’s been unresponsive. What do the kids say? ‘We’ve been ghosted.’ ” …Last year, PREIT said it had plans for 5,200 apartment units across six sites to add a new revenue stream to bolster malls where sales were down. So far, less than half of those have been permitted with a majority of the momentum in Fairfax County, Va., and Prince George’s County, Md.
Ummm Coradino says they’ve been “ghosted” by one township (Plymouth) where they have a failing mall yet magically they are the “best” group to redevelop another failing mall in another township (West Whiteland)? Ok yeah that’s some Kool Aid he’s drinking, huh?
West Whiteland get legally creative and put these people on a shelf until they figure their stuff out. I mean talk about the handwriting on the wall, right? From a practical standpoint you can’t really trust them to do anything right now can you? I mean what if they started something and you all were left with a giant hole in the ground or Tyvec waving in the breeze off of some unfinished something or other?
Pause pause pause! Warning warning danger ⚠️ Will Robinson! Proceed with caution ⛔️!