SAGINAW TOWNSHIP, MI — Fashion Square Mall will join a family of malls owned by a New York investment group, including Midland Mall, officials said.
Kohan Retail Investment Group, based in Great Neck, New York, acquired the indoor mall for $10.8 million in an online auction in August. As further documentation was pending for the sale, the identity of the buyer was not disclosed at this time.
But the deal was finalized on Thursday, September 22, and an official representing the auction announced Kohan Retail Investment Group as the new owner. The mall remained open throughout the process.
The sale was completed less than two weeks before the mall’s 50th anniversary.
Officials from the new ownership group did not immediately respond to messages from The Saginaw News/MLive.
The company’s website revealed a history of investing in malls.
Excluding Fashion Square Mall, the website showed that the group owned 61 retail centers, including six malls in Michigan: Adrian Mall, Birchwood Mall in Fort Gratiot, The Crossroads Mall in Portage, Lansing Mall, Midland Mall in Larkin Township, and The Westwood Mall in Marquette.
While the other Michigan locations remain open, the Adrian Mall was closed and fined in June 2020 due to structural issues, reported Lenconnect.com, part of the USA Today network.
Kohan Retail Investment Group’s purchase of Midland Mall followed a similar pattern to its acquisition of Fashion Square Mall. In both cases, the previous owners lost the property through foreclosure.
Kohan Retail Investment Group acquired The Midland Mall for $9.4 million in June 2018 and then announced plans to preserve the property as an indoor mall.
The company’s website stated that the investment group recently embarked on a shopping mall shopping spree of sorts, including the purchase of 13 new malls between June and November 2021.
Saginaw County municipal and business leaders said they have yet to speak to officials at Kohan Retail Investment Group but are upbeat after hearing news about the new owners.
“We expect to get in touch with them fairly quickly,” said Saginaw Township Manager Brian Rombalski.
“We are optimistic about the future of the mall. It’s one of those things where you take a deep breath, welcome the new group into the area and see what kind of things they want to do, and then build a relationship with them.”
The sale comes at a time when regional leaders have expressed hope for a resurgence in commerce along the mall’s business district, which borders the community of Kochville.
JoAnn Crary, president of Saginaw Future Inc., said she spoke with Rombalski about working with the mall’s new owners to make the company a success.
“Our goal is to set up a meeting with the new owners so we can hear about their plans for the future and how we might be able to help them,” Crary said. “There might be some incentive tools that we could explore if it makes sense for the community. We are very interested because (Fashion Square Mall) has to be a viable location.”
Kohan Retail Investment Group won the auction in dramatic fashion on Aug. 24 after engaging in a direct online bidding war with a second investor whose identity is still unknown.
The mall was available for purchase in part because its previous owner — Namdar Realty Group — defaulted on $34.8 million in mortgage debt to Wells Fargo in 2020. The lending giant then acquired the property in a foreclosure sale last year and plans to sell it at the online auction in August.
Officials at both Namdar Realty Group and Kohan Retail Investment Group say their headquarters are in Great Neck, New York, less than two miles apart.
Along with Wells Fargo, Kohan Retail Investment Group is the fourth owner to operate Fashion Square Mall.
The facility first opened on October 4, 1972, when buyers first stepped through the doors of the facility, which was built on 71 acres of farmland in the northern community of Saginaw.
At the time, anchor tenants JCPenney and Sears were the site’s main attractions. Other early retailers included Town & Country Fashions, William C. Wiechmann Co., Bintz Sports, Carter Shop, Seitner’s, Alfano’s Stride Rite, and Tait’s Hobby Shop.
Fashion Square Mall swelled with customers during the mall boom that helped define American culture in the 1970s and 1980s. The mall, in turn, fed a hungry business district and attracted business growth along Bay and Tittabawassee streets in those early decades.
A new food court was added in 1993, which kept customers full during long sessions spent browsing stores.
Eight years later, the facility underwent a $10 million facelift that gave the bodywork, built in the 1970s, a 21st-century shine.
However, foot traffic has decreased in recent decades, both due to the region’s shrinking population and a shift in consumer buying habits toward online stores.
In January 2001, Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates Property Inc. acquired the complex along with 20 other regional malls and two malls from the mall’s original developer — Cleveland-based Richard E. Jacobs Group Inc. — for $1.2 billion. Dollar.
The mall was sold again to Namdar Realty Group – along with The Lakes in Muskegon – in July 2016 for a combined consideration of $66.5 million, including the assumption of a $38.2 loan secured by Fashion Square Mall million dollars.
Not all of the 529,944 square foot mall sold at the August auction.
While most of the stores in the 100-unit mall are tenants, Macy’s has its own box there.
Sears also owned its own box on the north-most corner of the facility, though the store closed in 2019. Transformco of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, which now owns Sears and its former mall premises, retained Stokas Bieri Real Estate to sell the old Sears unit. This property is still for sale.
Saginaw’s Fashion Square Mall will be auctioned
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