Firm plans to lease available space
Moonbeam Capital Investments, of Las Vegas, has purchased Cortana Mall for
$6 million and plans to lease available space to retail, restaurant and office users by working closely with the surrounding community.
The mall’s main anchor stores were not part of the deal, since they are owned by the tenants.
Shawl Pryor Sr., Moonbeam’s senior vice president and director of leasing and management, said Moonbeam specializes in overlooked and underutilized centers. It “re-tenants” properties by finding out what the community wants and working with organizations such as chambers of commerce.
Early last year, Mall Properties Inc. sold Cortana to a special purpose entity formed by its lenders. Woodmont Companies was brought in to manage the property.
At the time, Woodmont denied the mall was for sale, though local real estate brokers said a sale was logical in this type of situation.
Many older malls have been repurposed as office parks with minor retail support — an approach many retail observers thought should be done with Cortana, which already has brought in Virginia College in the former Service Merchandise location.
Pryor said Moonbeam believes Cortana still has a future as a retail center, though he said the company takes an open-minded, community-driven approach to leasing. Nontraditional office users can be an important piece of the puzzle, he said.
He said Cortana can compete with the more popular outdoor centers such as Perkins Rowe and Towne Center because it is climate-controlled and still can be a place where families can spend an entire day. Themed restaurants and family-oriented retail are good ways to do this, he said.
The Cortana development has experienced a simultaneous boom and bust in recent years, as the outparcels thrive while the interior mall has a number of empty storefronts displaying advertising for nearby merchants that are still open.
While the interior waned in the past decade, a new strip center that includes a Guitar Center and Bed Bath & Beyond opened along Florida Boulevard. Several years later, a new Wal-Mart Supercenter opened on the Airline Highway side of Cortana and a Sam’s Club food warehouse followed in early 2012.
Pryor said Moonbeam has a national portfolio of retail, hotel, office and industrial space, though 7 million of its 9 million square feet is in retail. It owns four enclosed malls, including Cortana, as well as an outlet center, anchored centers and community strip centers. Pryor said the company is about 10 years old, but has been aggressively expanding; half of the growth in its holdings has been in the past two years.
Pryor said Woodmont will continue to manage the Florida Boulevard mall.