Moline's SouthPark Mall Asks For Reduced Property Taxes - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Moline's SouthPark Mall Asks For Reduced Property Taxes

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The owners of SouthPark Mall are trying to get their property taxes reduced. The appeal to the Rock Island County Board of Assessment comes as the city works with the owners to upgrade the mall.

During an appeal hearing asking for lower property taxes, representatives for Macerich, SouthPark's owner, talked about how the mall has been struggling. Right now, the mall's fair market property value is $45 million, but owners say it's only worth $about 30 million. 

"You could roll a bowling ball down these halls and not hit anybody," says an attorney for Macerich.

A bleak picture was painted during the Rock Island County appeals hearing.

"This economic model is just not working the way it used to," says appraiser Kevin Byrnes.

SouthPark's appraiser reported the mall is having trouble attracting long term renters. Byrnes says permanent tenants, with a 3-year or longer lease, are paying around $18.55 per square foot. Where as temporary tenants pay $3.44 per square foot

"What's happening is the $18 space is going down and the $3 dollar space is going up," says Byrnes, "So, that really hits the bottom line with this mall."

The appraiser added all of the malls stores are under-performing. Nationally, 2011 sales figures for anchor store chains located at SouthPark are much higher than sales in Moline.

"The long term trend is this is what's happening to older, regional malls around the country and we're seeing it here at SouthPark," adds Byrnes.

Another problem, according to the appraiser, is that the Dillard's store is trying to leave. Byrnes says Dillard's has a clause in its contract that it can shutdown if SouthPark occupancy falls below 65%. If the mall's out lots are included occupancy is at 67 percent.

"Only about 60 percent is occupied by permanent tenants," says Byrnes, "It's below the criteria of 65percent. Dillard's has been saying 'we should be able to get out of here.'"

There are preliminary plans for renovation of the mall. Those plans include demolishing part of the mall, creating office space and changing some of the stores.

"We want to look at who are the anchors and make sure that they are ones the buying public might be more attuned to," adds Byrnes, "We know since the crash of '08 discount retailing is much bigger."

The county's appraisal is currently under review and a decision on the appeal will be made by March. Moline city leaders would like to create a tax incentive district for SouthPark Mall. A vote on creating that has been delayed until April, because the district cannot be set up until the mall's property value is determined.

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