After a five-year hiatus, Columbus, Ohio-based REIT Glimcher Realty Trust is buying malls again. With the acquisition of WestShore Plaza Mall from Grosvenor USA for $153 million, Glimcher is solidifying its presence in Tampa at a cap rate of 8.5 percent. The purchase is the culmination of the firm's efforts to improve its balance sheet, says McDonald Investments analyst Richard Moore.

Last year, Glimcher sold $275 million worth of its community center properties to reduce debt and finance new mall acquisitions. In the second quarter, the company saw net operating income decline 11.6 percent in its community center portfolio and 1.8 percent in its malls. And its mall base rents averaged $23.13 per square foot, while community center base rents averaged $10.41. During the quarter, Glimcher disposed of three community centers with dark anchors for an aggregate $10 million at a cap rate estimated at 10.75 percent by Prudential Financial.

The 1 million-square-foot WestShore Plaza Mall, located near Tampa's “old money” neighborhoods, is anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue, Burdines-Macy's, JCPenney, Sears and an AMC Theater. Small shop space at the mall is 86.2 percent occupied.

“Management believes it can attract several tenants from the nearby Old Hyde Park retail area, which has struggled since Jacobson's closed,” Moore says. The mall's annual sales per square foot is $385, stronger than Glimcher's $300 average, says Moore.