Oak Park Mall set for exciting future after bankruptcy

Oak Park Mall owner CBL & Associates Properties Inc. emerged from Chapter 11 Missouri bankruptcy earlier this month, eliminating about $1.7 billion in debt and senior bonds.

“This puts CBL in a much stronger position financially. … It gives us the financial flexibility we need to execute our strategy going forward,” Stacey KeatingCBL’s vice president of corporate communications, told the Kansas City Business Journal.

That strategy includes property diversification by finding new uses for underperforming anchor spaces, she said. Former Sears spaces, for example, are filled with tenants such as Scheels All Sports, Main Event and a grocery store. In a mall, CBL opened a Hollywood Casino and added a Life Storage. Keating said CBL is also considering uses such as hotels and education.

Oak Park Mall anchor tenant Nordstrom plans to move to Country Club Plaza in 2023, and CBL’s development team is considering a variety of ideas, said Karla Rocker Engel, general manager of the shopping center. However, nothing is set in stone and she declined to discuss potential options.

CBL, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, owns Oak Park Mall through a joint venture with financial services company Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association. CBL’s portfolio spans 24 states and 105 properties, including shopping malls and outdoor malls.

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