COLUMBIA — The Columbia Mall will remain open for business as usual, despite Thursday's bankruptcy filing by its parent company, General Growth Properties Inc.
“The Columbia Mall will have no impact at all," said Janet Henderson, senior general manager of Columbia Mall. "There will be no impact as far as consumers and customers are concerned.”
Chicago-based General Growth Properties, the second-largest U.S. mall owner with 200 centers nationwide, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after warning since November that it faced debts of $27.29 billion and assets of $29.56 billion.
In addition to the Columbia Mall, the company owns the Capital Mall in Jefferson City, the Saint Louis Galleria, Northwest Plaza in St. Ann and the Branson Landing in southwest Missouri.
Nationally, the company owns malls such as Galleria Dallas in Texas, and The Shoppes at the Palazzo in Las Vegas.
“While we have worked tirelessly in the past several months to address our maturing debts, the collapse of the credit markets has made it impossible for us to refinance maturing debt outside of Chapter 11,” Chief Executive Officer Adam Mertz said in a statement.
The company hopes to establish a sustainable, long-term capital structure during the bankruptcy period, the statement said.
Mertz also said all day-to-day operations and business of all GGP’s shopping centers and properties will continue as usual.
Only 10 larger bankruptcies have been filed since 1980, including those by Lehman Brothers, Enron, Texaco, and Pacific Gas and Electric.
“During the Chapter 11 cases, the company will continue to explore strategic alternatives and search the markets for available sources of capital,” Mertz said.
Under Chapter 11, Columbia Mall is protected under the bank court and could suspend payment of property taxes to Boone County without incurring penalties or late fees.
In 2008, General Growth Properties, paid nearly $518,000 in property tax to Boone County, according to the Boone County Collector’s Web site. About $385,000 of those taxes went to Columbia schools.
Patricia Lensmeyer, the Boone County collector, said she doesn’t see Columbia Mall’s small percentage of the $140 million collected in property tax last year having a huge affect on Boone County.
“It depends on the available assets, but we will be paid before other creditors,” Lensmeyer said.
The main affect the county would incur with the company under bankruptcy would be the inability to collect late fees if there is a delay in the property tax payment, Lensmeyer said. The taxing entities of Columbia would not be significantly harmed by late property tax payments.
“If there is any money, we will get our share,” Lensmeyer said. “It just might be delayed.”
The Columbia Mall has more than 140 shops and is anchored by Dillard’s, Sears, JCPenney and Target.