NORWALK, Conn. – Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom are intent upon maintaining their proposed footprints in The SoNo Collection, GGP CEO Sandeep Mathrani said Tuesday.
Mathrani’s comments were part of GGP’s third quarter earnings report-inspired question and answer conference call.
Daniel Santos of Sandler O’Neill & Partners asked if Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom might consider backing out of The SoNo Collection, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
Mathrani said that made him smile.
“As much as we would like to see a department store downsize, so we can add in other users, both have dug their heels in to keep the size of store that they have currently,” Mathrani is quoted as saying. “…There is obviously a hole in the market – there are very few holes in the market in our business, and they both feel they need to have the better representation of their stores in this market.”
He was later asked what amenities The SoNo Collection might offer. The transcript quotes him as saying:
“It’s going to have all the things that you think a new set of lifestyle sort of project will have. It will have more food, it will have more entertainment, it will have lesser power, it will be more – I use the word multi-used from a tenant mix perspective. So it will have the things that people want to go, again hangout in, fitness, yoga, SoulCycle – it’s not SoulCycle, but enough things like SoulCycle because that exists at the shopping center. So it will be a place where people want to go, congregate and hangout.
“Look, every study shows you that every millennial actually prefers to go into a shopping center, they go hang out. And so, you got to create an environment for them to come and ponder and sit in the community and you know, why does Apple open these phenomenal stores? Because they want to come and be part of in center of a community. And so, we are creating something where you do want to come and be part of the community.
“If anyone’s been in Fairfield County, today there is really no place for anyone in Fairfield County to go and congregate. We’re trying to create something that’s indoor-outdoor with the mix of uses that will allow someone to come and congregate. Which is why we are 65% pre-leased today.”
Mathrani said at the August groundbreaking for The SoNo Collection that the project was 65 percent pre-leased.
A recent Wall Street Journal story about GGP’s Norwalk mall drew some local interest, with critics focused on a Mathrani quote: “We’re not building any more (malls). This could be it for a long period of time.”
This echoes a comment Mathrani said at the groundbreaking: “People should appreciate that you may not see another mall get built in America for the next decade.”
GGP exec Kevin Berry said in a Tuesday email, “Sandeep was referring to the mall industry in the US, in that the wave of building shopping malls that occurred in the 1960s thru right before the Great Recession is likely not going to continue.”