Mall operator files for bankruptcy

Chicago based GGP 2nd largest mall owner in country
April 16, 2009 3:00:54 PM PDT
The boom times are apparently over for General Growth Properties, the owner of Chicago's Water Tower Place.The Chicago-based General Growth Properties has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

It's all about trying to get credit. Whether it's a taxpayer trying to make ends meet or a billion dollar corporation trying to pay its creditors, tight credit is making it tough to survive this recession.

Water Tower Place will remain a Magnificent Mile destination, according to the company.

"I'm optimistic we can provide the same great shopping experience to folks here in Chicago that they have come to expect," said Tom Nolan, president, General Growth Properties.

Water Tower is among seven Illinois malls owned by General Growth Properties (GGP). GGP had warned of difficulty paying off mortgages months ago. On Thursday the company filed for bankruptcy, but it does not have plans to sell property.

Like many Americans GGP couldn't get their mortgages refinanced.

"In our case we have the misfortune of having these particular substantial size mortgages coming due at the wrong time," said Nolan.

The same tight credit is forcing some businesses to close. Heidi Lawton is the president of the Northern Illinois Association of Commercial Realtors. She says a glut of commercial property is evidence of the credit crisis.

"People can't refinance they can't finance, they can't sell properties because there's no available capital out there. So until we can get that working again, we're going to be in that position," said Lawton.

While signs of financing problems may be visible throughout Chicago land, GGP says visitors to the water tower will not notice a difference ....perhaps only the headlines.

"Water Tower is a staple of Chicago and it's kind of disheartening and shocking," said Sharon Mikule, shopper.

"It's scary also. these times are getting very scary and I really hope they can work it out," said Bonny Oberg, shopper.

GGP owns more than 200 malls across the country.


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