Bankrupt Montgomery Ward properties going like hotcakes

Target and May Department stores have obtained the leasing rights to 48 of the 250 Montgomery Ward stores. Minneapolis-based Target Corp. has acquired 35 stores and St. Louis-based May Department Store Co. has purchased 13 properties.

Target plans to convert at least 30 locations into Target stores by 2002. The exact location of the stores had not been announced as of press time.

Target plans to spend more than $20 million per site renovating and expanding each property. Target decided to purchase the Ward stores because it gives the discount retailer the opportunity to acquire sites in several premier markets in which real estate is difficult to find, most notably in California.

May has agreed in principle to purchase 13 former Montgomery Ward locations from New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Kimco Realty Corp. The retailer plans to renovate and reopen most stores in 2002.

May spokeswoman Sharon Bateman said that financial information, locations, and the breakdown of ownership and leases would not be released until the deal is finalized.

Nordstrom will anchor L.A.'s Grove at Farmer's Market

Construction is under way on The Grove at Farmer's Market, a 640,000 sq. ft. development of Los Angeles-based Caruso Affiliated Holdings. Anchors at the outdoor center will include Nordstrom, a flagship Banana Republic and FAO Schwarz, Barnes & Noble, J. Crew, the Gap and a 14-screen Pacific Theatres movie complex. Doors are scheduled to open in March 2002.

Construction has already started on the Nordstrom store. The Seattle-based retailer is going full steam ahead with the 122,000 sq. ft. anchor store, even though the retailer has pulled out of several projects during the past few months.

The open-air center will include a variety of shops and smaller boutique stores and restaurants that will be set in a village-style environment with shopping alleys, plazas, fountains and courtyards that will be built around a two-acre park.

The Grove will also offer patrons an internal transit system, called “The Red Line,” that will use retrofitted trolley cars to link The Grove and the nearby Farmer's Market.

The Mall at Fallen Timbers is all the buzz in Toledo, Ohio

In keeping with its mantra to build at least one new mall per year, Chicago-based General Growth Properties has decided that residents of Toledo are in need of a new mall. The retail REIT is scheduled to break ground this spring on The Mall at Fallen Timbers, a 1.2 million sq. ft. lifestyle center, located one mile west of Interstate 475 at U.S. Highway 24. The anchors will include a Dillard's, Kaufmann's, Sears and JCPenney. Doors are scheduled to open in November 2002.

The Atlanta-based architectural firm of Thompson Ventulett Stainback & Associates is currently designing the retail project. As of press time, a general contractor had not yet been selected.

Upon completion, the retail center will include 420,000 sq. ft. of lifestyle retail tenants. The mall will also have a “streetscape” exterior adjacent to the main entrance, and will feature a NHL-size hockey rink, a carousel, specialty restaurants and a 1,000 sq. ft. food court.

Walmart.com, buy.com reduce staffing, retool operations

Layoffs continue in the dot-com sector, this time affecting the world's largest land-based retailer. In March, Walmart.com, based in Bentonville, Ark., laid off 24 employees — 10% of its staff — and reduced its online marketing operations that proved to be ineffective on the Internet. Wal-Mart intends to rely more on its stores to drive traffic to its Web site.

Walmart.com also is looking to fill roughly 50 positions in Web site design, product management and engineering. The e-retailer has reassigned a number of workers to new jobs.

Meanwhile, Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based buy.com eliminated 125 jobs from its headquarters in an effort to reduce operating expenses. The cuts were combined with the e-retailer's decision to close its sports store and to exit the golf business it acquired from buygolf.com.

The company expects to record a pre-tax charge of roughly $35 million in the first quarter of 2001 as a result of the restructuring. The company recently replaced its CEO and CFO.

Staubach Co. affiliate acquires 96 CVS drugstore properties

Wolverine Equities Co., the investment affiliate of The Staubach Co., Dallas, has purchased 96 CVS drugstore properties for $288 million. The properties have more than 1 million sq. ft. of space and are located in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The deal is structured so that Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Corp. will continue to control and operate the properties under long-term lease agreements with Staubach. According to Staubach, the deal stems from the drugstore chain's desire to fine-tune its real estate financing strategy.

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