General Growth’s Malls in Crisis

Chicago The second-largest owner of malls in the United States, Chicago-based General Growth Properties, reported that the company’s financial instability and looming debt has reached a critical level. In an SEC filing on Monday, the company stated, “Our potential inability to address 2008 or 2009 debt maturities in a satisfactory fashion raises substantial doubts as to our ability to continue as a going concern.”

On the immediate horizon, General Growth has $900 million of property secured debt, scheduled to mature on Nov. 28, and $58 million of corporate debt scheduled to mature by Dec. 1. The property secured debt is related to two Las Vegas properties, Fashion Show and The Shoppes at The Palazzo. In addition to the 2008 debt obligations, the company has $3.07 billion of property and corporate debt scheduled to mature in 2009.

GGP is examining a variety of options including the sale of core assets and joint-venture assets. The SEC filing also stated, “Given the continued weakness of the retail and credit markets, there can be no assurance that we can obtain such extensions or refinance our existing debt or obtain the additional capital necessary to satisfy our short term cash needs on satisfactory terms.”

The General Growth retail portfolio includes more than 200 regional shopping malls in 44 states, among them 22 of the premiere luxury shopping destinations in the country such as Water Tower Place in Chicago (pictured), as well as ownership in master-planned communities and international properties. The retail properties encompass approximately 200 million sq. ft. and include more than 24,000 retail stores.

Recently the company announced it had deferred the development, construction or opening of select projects slated for the near and intermediate term.