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Photo by Joe Wilhelm Jr. - The former Montgomery Ward space at Regency Square Mall, part of the west end of the Arlington mall that was part of discussions among the City and a developer's consultant Monday.
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jun. 26, 201312:00 PM EST

'Exploratory' talks underway for Regency Square Mall

by: David Chapman

A developer's consultant met Monday with a City official and a City Council member to talk about potential uses for portions of Regency Square Mall, though discussions have been termed exploratory.

The meeting included Council member Clay Yarborough; Joe Whitaker, City Office of Economic Development executive; and Lyneir Richardson of Case Property Services and CEO of Brick City Development Corp., the primary economic development organization for Newark, N.J.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Richardson declined comment, citing confidentiality agreements.

According to its website, Case is a distressed debt advisory firm and Richardson is a member of the executive team specializing in asset reposition and government financing.

Chicago-based General Growth Properties owns Regency Square. There has been no reported or recorded transaction between the company and a buyer for any part of the mall.

In his biography, Richardson is listed as a former vice president of urban development for General Growth.

As the Daily Record reported in March, General Growth listed the mall's occupancy at 60.2 percent in its annual report filed in February with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The rate was the same reported at the end of the third quarter.

A footnote in its fourth-quarter report in February said Regency Square has been "transferred to the special servicer," which is trying to renegotiate the loan on the property.

The mall is not listed on General Growth's website under a properties search.

A Jan. 18 story in Bloomberg said Regency Square was one of three malls General Growth had in special servicing.

The mall's major tenants include Sears, Belk, JCPenney and a Dillard's clearance center.

Hit harder by vacancies have been the mall's west end, such as the former Montgomery Ward space, which Whitaker said was part of Monday's discussion.

Whitaker said the consultant meeting was to look at the mall and provide a "wide variety of suggestions" and concepts that could help or hinder community support and increase foot traffic for the mall's other tenants.

Yarborough also said the meeting was exploratory and Richardson sought ideas with which the community might be amenable.

"I'm hopeful that something good will develop for the mall. Regency is the commercial hub area in Arlington," Yarborough said.

Yarborough represents District 1, which includes Regency Square.

"I know Arlington wants that and it would be good for the whole city," Yarborough said.

No recommendations were provided and Richardson was "basically looking for ideas," Whitaker said.

Whitaker often serves as a point person with Council regarding economic incentive deals, but said the mall "doesn't really qualify" for such because it's not within a designated geographic zone and has been retail, which often isn't incentivized.

Whitaker said the City could offer support where it could, such as assistance in the permitting process.

"We want to be helpful," he said.

For years, rumors have circulated the mall could be used as an educational facility, which also was discussed, as was an idea for a call center that potentially could qualify for the Urban Job Tax Credit program.

The program provides a tax credit from $500-$2,000 per qualified job and can be taken against the Florida Corporate Income Tax or the Florida Sales and Use Tax, but not both, according to the City's website.


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