DeSoto Square mall sale agreement pending, analyst says

BRADENTON — An unidentified purchaser has signed a letter of intent with Simon Property Group to acquire the DeSoto Square mall in Bradenton, says a commercial real estate analyst.

Simon officials Tuesday confirmed the mall is up for sale.

Simon’s $61.9 million loan on a 492,997-square-foot portion of the mall was in danger of imminent default in 2010. At the time, Simon hired legal counsel and offered to hand the property back to the bank, according to the Trepp real estate database.

In more recent months, Simon has hired CBRE, which has an office in Tampa, to market the shopping mall to prospective buyers. The 639,094 square-foot mall on Cortez Road was first built in 1973, with the latest expansion in 1997. Simon acquire the property in August 1996.

The mall, which appraised at $80.2 million during the height of the real estate boom in 2004, is only worth an estimated $43.1 million today, according to Trepp records.

The purchase price and debt agreement negotiated as part of the letter of intent signed this month is still unclear.

In addition, this month the appraisal reduction amount on the loan was increased to $24 million, up from $15.6 million in April. This has often proven to be a telling sign a sale or loan modification is near, Trepp said.

Commercial brokers handling the transaction for CBRE couldn’t be reached for comment. A mall spokesman declined to elaborate on the deal.

“We can’t publicly comment on any of the purchasing or selling of our malls,” Simon spokesman Les Morris said. “It’s just not a subject we talk about.”

Simon reported $515.6 million in operating income for the first quarter that ended March 31, a 14 percent increase over the same time last year.

Those earnings equated to $2.18 per share, according to an April filing with the Security Exchange Commission.

Simon also owns the Ellenton Premium Outlets in Manatee.

Josh Salman, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @JoshSalman

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