General Growth Properties emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week likely marked a turning point for the retail real estate industry.

“Our second largest owner of malls has gone through a difficult process and has survived and is going to continue operating,” says Chris Macke, senior real estate strategist with the CoStar Group, a Bethesda, Md.-based research firm. “So it’s very hopeful for the industry.”

The fortunes of the Chicago-based regional mall REIT, the second largest in the country, have closely followed those of the industry itself. The company over-leveraged in the mid-2000s, faced difficulties securing refinancing in the wake of the credit crunch in 2008 and filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

Now that General Growth has successfully reorganized, managing to secure multi-billion dollar equity commitments and to stay an independent entity, its recovery spells hope for other retail real estate owners.

“I think it’s unfortunate that [the bankruptcy] had to happen, but I am just very glad they are out,” says Greg Maloney, CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle Retail, an Atlanta-based third party management provider.

Read full story here.