Traverse City's has a new owner and, for the first time ever, a local one.
TC Partners LLC, a group led by local developer Jerry Snowden of Snowden Companies, won an online auction held earlier this fall.
Snowden tells The Ticker he is now studying the shopping center known as Traverse City Outlets before deciding its future.
"I'm looking at several options, including redevelopment, partial redevelopment, renovation, leasing as-is, and other options. The goal is to bring it back to life."
The mall has gone through several ownership groups and has been hit hard by the down economy. Occupancy is at or below 50 percent.
This is the third time Snowden has attempted to purchase the mall, dating back to 2008.
"Third time's a charm," he added.
The obvious decline of the mall is in contrast to boom times for outlet malls nationally. No new enclosed malls have opened in the U.S. since 2006, but existing outlet centers are thriving. Over the past 18 months alone, the square footage of U.S. outlet malls has increased more than 9 percent, according to Value Retail News. Average base outlet mall rents are up 8.5 percent from 2010 and up 23 percent versus 2007.
Seventy retail chains report they expect to add outlet stores in 2013. Some – including Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Coach, DKNY, Dressbarn, Izod, Jones New York, Justice, Maurices, Nine West, Tommy Hilfiger, and U. S. Polo Assn. – plan to add six or more outlet stores next year.
Terms of the Traverse City outlet mall purchase were not disclosed. Snowden is handling leasing and development for TC Partners, which includes a downstate investment fund.
Hearing of the new owner, Garfield Township Supervisor Chuck Korn commented, "It has huge potential. If you put something in there that's a destination kind of store, it will be fantastic. I'm looking forward to working with Mr. Snowden. It will be interesting to see what he does."
One option being explored is demolishing the center section of the center to make way for one large, anchor tenant, though Snowden says any major change would not begin until spring at the earliest.