Local mall owner: Retail industry is ‘volatile, evolving’

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Combined ShapeCaption
Dayton Mall aerial views show 1.3 million square foot retail space

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Washington Prime, the parent company of the Mall at Fairfield Commons and the Dayton Mall, is revisioning the mall concept as brick-and-mortar retailers struggle to compete with online shopping giants like Amazon.

Washington Prime reported its financial and operating results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2017 on Thursday. Lou Conforti, CEO of Washington Prime, said it is “overall melodramatic to describe our sector as frenetic and volatile. Most importantly, it’s evolving,” he said.

The Columbus, Ohio-based real estate investment trust said it had funds from operations of $96.6 million, or 44 cents per share, in the period. The company said it had net income of $50.2 million, or 27 cents per share.

For the year, the company reported funds from operations of $361.5 million, or $1.63 per share. Revenue was reported as $758.1 million.

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“Don’t ask me if we’re a regional mall, lifestyle of shopping center company. I just couldn’t care less about this archaic classification,” Conforti said. “What I do know is our guests demand a convenient manner by which to purchase, both mainstay and specialty goods as well as differentiated food, beverage, entertainment and the like. Shame on us if we fail to deliver.”

Occupancy rates for all Washington Prime properties was 93.1 percent at year-end 2017.

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The company also signed an agreement to purchase Southgate Mall, a dominant hybrid format retail venue situated in Missoula, Mont. The asset features a Lucky’s Market and a nine-screen dine-in AMC Theater – both newly built. Lifestyle tenancy, which includes food, beverage, entertainment and fitness, accounted for 47 percent of total leasing volume in 2017.

Some changes have occurred at locally owned Washington Prime malls. The company in September signed a definitive agreement for the sale of 41 restaurant outparcels to Four Corners Property Trust Inc. for more than $67 million, including outparcels at the Mall at Fairfield Commons located in Beavercreek.

“Four Corners Property Trust is better suited to own the aforementioned outparcels. Deploying proceeds from this transaction to invest in other opportunities is prudent as it allows us to concentrate upon continued financial improvement,” Conforti said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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