Morning Brief: Mall Owner Faces Debt Deadline

General Growth Properties, the Chicago real estate behemoth that owns Tysons Galleria, Landmark Mall and the Mall in Columbia, faces a major deadline today as it tries to negotiate new terms for $900 million worth of loans on two Las Vegas properties.

The company took on substantial debt when it acquired Columbia-based developer Rouse in 2004. Last month it said in a regulatory filing last month that it may seek bankruptcy protection if it cannot refinance its debt and its lenders declare it in default.

If that happened, General Growth said, its malls would stay open. But some local officials and residents around the Washington area are concerned about the future of some of the company's local projects.

Just two months ago, General Growth presented plans for an ambitious overhaul of Columbia's downtown, with 5,500 new townhouses, 1 million square feet of retail space, upgrades to the Merriweather Post Pavilion and extensions for a path around the community's lake.

Alexandria city officials and residents are also concerned. General Growth has been working with the city to redesign the aging Landmark, one of the oldest malls in the region, and some of the area around it.

In Montgomery County, parents and national children's advocacy groups are questioning the school system's experiment with BusRadio, a private network that broadcasts sanitized music and ads to a captive audience of student passengers.

Consumers Union, the National PTA and other groups oppose exposing students to commercial radio on the bus, time they might otherwise pass in quiet reflection or conversing with friends. BusRadio has revived arguments raised two decades ago against Channel One, a company that offers ad-laden television news broadcasts in classrooms.

And in the District, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said on Thursday that he plans to press federal officials for money from the economic stimulus package that President-elect Barack Obama and federal lawmakers are discussing.

Fenty's announcement came on the heels of a report released Thursday by the nonprofit group D.C. Appleseed, which is calling on the incoming administration to offer the city more financial help.

The report focused on the District's unique status as a local and federal city, which means it must shoulder extra financial responsibilities.

By Alejandro Lazo  |  December 12, 2008; 10:00 AM ET  | Category:  Economy Watch , Morning Brief , Real Estate , Retail
Previous: Graham Joins Facebook Board | Next: General Growth Refinances Some Debt; Deadline Looms


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