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Indiana group buying Prime Outlets shopping centers

December 08, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Simon Property Group said Tuesday it is buying the Prime Outlets shopping centers as part of a transaction valued at about $2.33 billion.

Prime Outlets Acquisition Co., a subsidiary of The Lightstone Group of Lakewood, N.J., a real estate company, currently owns Prime Retail.

Simon said in a news release it will pay Prime Outlets Acquisition Co. about $700 million for Prime Outlets -- 80 percent in cash and 20 percent in Simon common operating partnership units.

The remaining $1.6 billion of the transaction will be through Simon picking up Prime Outlets' debt, Simon spokesman Les Morris said.

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Prime Outlets includes 22 shopping centers, according to Simon Property Group. One is off Sharpsburg Pike (Md. 65), on the southern edge of Hagerstown.

Prime Outlets at Hagerstown, which opened in 1998, is listed as having 484,906 square feet of gross leasable area, making it the sixth-largest of the 22 centers. It is one of Washington County's largest tourist attractions.

As of June 30, Prime Outlets' centers were 92 percent occupied and generated about $370 in annual sales per square foot, according to Simon's press release on the acquisition.

Prime Retail took out a three-year loan in 2000 to help stave off bankruptcy and sold some centers, including part of Prime Outlets at Hagerstown.

The company paid off the $90 million loan in 2002 -- 10 months early.

Morris said the sale announced Tuesday is expected to become final around the spring of 2010 after obtaining agreements from lenders.

He said in an e-mail that it's too soon to talk about operational details once the shopping centers change hands.

Questions to Prime Outlets at Hagerstown and The Lightstone Group were referred to Beckerman Public Relations in New Jersey, which didn't return several messages. An employee later said the firm would not comment.

Simon Property Group, which is based in Indianapolis, describes itself as the largest public U.S. real estate company. It owns or has an interest in 385 properties with 262 million square feet of gross leasable area in North America, Europe and Asia, the company's press release says.

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