With new owner, Mall of Bluffs sees a comeback ahead

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Posted: Saturday, February 16, 2013 12:00 am

COUNCIL BLUFFS — The Mall of the Bluffs was purchased Friday by a New York company that wants to keep it as a retail center, a mall official said.

The Namdar Realty Group, based in Great Neck, N.Y., purchased the mall from General Growth Properties of Chicago, said Andrea Leinen, business manager. Igal Namdar is the owner of that realty group. The purchase price was not announced, but the goal is clear, according to Leinen.

“He wants to maintain the mall as a retail center, and we are working with local brokers who are getting a feel of the community on what they want,” Leinen said. “We plan on keeping tenants we have and adding more in the near future.”

A spokesman for Namdar Realty said Igal Namdar was unavailable to comment Friday but confirmed the purchase.

The mall opened in 1986 as the city’s premier shopping center. Situated just off Madison Avenue near the Interstate 80 junction, it offers 730,000 square feet of retail space, Leinen said.

“This is a wonderful location, and I think we can come back, I really do,” she said. “And Mr. Namdar feels like it is a good investment for him.”

Within the next two weeks, the plan calls for closing the area from near the Dillard’s store, which is doing well, Leinen said, to the former Sears location. That wing will be empty after the Kaplan University branch office closes next week.

“We’ll start focusing on the center of the mall and expand outward.”

Upon learning of the news, Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan said, “I’m excited to hear they purchased it. It will be nice to see it busy again.”

Over the last few months, several groups, including the Namdar group, visited him about the mall, Hanafan said.

“Every group I talked to was interested in the property,” he said. “These groups buy older malls and revitalize them.”

Bob Mundt, president and CEO of the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce, said his office received four or five inquires over the last two years about the mall. He didn’t know the names of the companies since it was paid consultants who did the inquiries for their clients, Mundt said.

“We had people contact us about demographics and retail market data,” he said. To have a new owner bringing in new ideas to the mall is a good thing, Mundt said.

“I can’t stress enough how excited we are,” Leinen said.

The Namdar group currently owns 5 million square feet of commercial real estate across the country, including shopping malls in Tulsa, Okla., New York City, Detroit and Columbus, Ohio, among others.

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