Orange County investors, backed with British-based money, don’t think malls are dead: They’ve bought an ailing lender-owned Bay Area shopping center and hope to turn around its fortunes.
LBG Real Estate Cos. of Newport Beach and Aviva Investors of London announced the purchase of the 1.1 million-square-foot Hilltop Mall in Richmond. While the terms were not disclosed, the 77-acre property had been foreclosed upon by its lender, a Wall Street mortgage fund that reported it was owed $63 million by previous owners.
Like many malls, Hilltop Mall has fallen on hard times. The indoor shopping center, roughly the size of Huntington Beach’s Bella Terra mall, has been operating in various forms of distressed ownership for at least five years. One of its anchor stores, JCPenney, announced it was closing this year. Still, it is selling space roughly 85 percent full.
Developed by retailing icon Alfred Taubman, it opened in 1976 and was bought by Mills then Simon Properties before falling into foreclosure in 2013.