Want to own a mall? You’ll have your chance this week.
Starting Monday, Rotterdam Square mall will be for sale to the highest bidder in an online auction lasting two days. The Santa Monica-based Macerich Co. has retained New York City firm Rockwood Real Estate Advisors and Auction.com to market the mall, which it purchased in 2005.
The starting bid is $2 million on a property that was assessed at $30 million this year and had a tax bill of more than $444,000. The mall at 93 W. Campbell Road includes 585,000 square feet of retail space on about 70 acres of land and comes with a food court, restaurant, movie theater, three anchor stores and more than 50 retailers.
It’s unclear why Macerich wants to sell the mall. Company officials could not be reached for comment Saturday.
Macerich bought Rotterdam Square eight years ago in a $2.3 billion acquisition of its Rochester-based parent company, Wilmorite Inc. The buyout came with 11 regional malls, including Wilton Mall outside Saratoga Springs, and two open-air shopping centers.
At the time, Rotterdam Square was said to have the lowest occupancy rate of all Wilmorite shopping centers, at 89 percent. Eight years later, that number has fallen. Today, the mall is 86.9 percent occupied, according to a real estate listing on LoopNet.
Where Wilton Mall continues to add tenants and anchors (the popular Vermont-based Healthy Living Market opened there in March), Rotterdam Square has had a harder time coming by new tenants.
The mall, built in 1988 just south of Interstate 890, has three main anchor stores — Kmart, Sears and Macy’s — and several major tenants, such as Gap, TJ Maxx, Shoe Department Encore, American Eagle Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret and the seven-screen Rotterdam Square Cinema.
From the get-go, Macerich had hoped to attract more national retailers to Rotterdam. The California company owns, operates and develops major retail properties across the country. But almost immediately after its 2005 purchase, it was Wilton Mall — which was already at 97 percent occupancy — that gained new tenants or saw expansions, like a new 84,000-square-foot JCPenney.
In 2010, about a fifth of Rotterdam Square’s storefronts were empty, according to an unofficial Daily Gazette survey. Express Limited, Borders Express and Friendly’s had all recently left, along with a McDonald’s and several other fast-food chains in the food court. Mall officials at the time downplayed the number of vacancies and declined to discuss their occupancy rate.
“Really, retail is all about that change,” then-property manager Chip Ferguson told the Gazette in 2010. “We’re going to get that change all the time.”
Beginning Monday, interested buyers can bid on the 463,987 square feet of the mall that Macerich owns at www.auction.com. Anchor and major tenants occupy about 65 percent of the mall’s square footage, and with the exception of TJ Maxx and Sears, have substantial remaining lease terms.