Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital sells Westland Mall in Hialeah by reassigning $149M loan

Deal does not include department store buildings

From left: Steven Levin of Centennial and Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital Group (Centennial, Starwood Capital Group, LoopNet)
From left: Steven Levin of Centennial and Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital Group (Centennial, Starwood Capital Group, LoopNet)

Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital Group sold Westland Mall in Hialeah to a Dallas-based retail real estate firm.

Centennial scooped up the mall at 1675 West 49th Street by assuming Starwood’s $149.4 million mortgage on the property, records show.

Starwood originally took out a $160 million loan on the mall in 2017. The current outstanding balance is $149.4 million, with Germany-based Aareal Bank as the lender. Simultaneously with the mortgage reassignment from Starwood to Centennial, the two also signed a deed for the property for $0, records show.

The deal does not include the entirety of the mall, as buildings for a Macy’s, JCPenny and a closed Sears are not part of the sale.

Tenants in the Westland Mall property that traded include Bath & Body Works, Pandora, G by Guess, Victoria’s Secret, H&M, Tous and Express Factory Outlet, according to the mall’s website.

The 301,593-square-foot mall, most of which was developed in 1970, is on the northeast corner of the Palmetto Expressway and West 49th Street, property records show.

Centennial, led by Steven Levin, was founded in 1997 and owns malls and neighborhood shopping centers throughout the U.S., including the Port Charlotte Town Center in Florida, according to its website.

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Starwood, based in Miami Beach, is a private investment firm founded in 1991 with several subsidiaries and affiliates, including its publicly traded real estate investment arm Starwood Property Trust.

The deal comes at a dubious time for the South Florida retail market.

Although landlords started increasing rents in the third quarter of 2021 to levels surpassing the pre-pandemic era, most of the leasing activity was fueled by restaurants and service-oriented tenants, according to a Colliers report.

At the same time, other South Florida malls have shown signs of trouble. The $95 million commercial mortgage-backed securities loan for the Westfield Broward mall in Plantation went into special servicing in August, and showed owner Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield had not made a payment since April, according to Trepp.

In another case, the lender took control of Southland Mall in Cutler Bay after the previous owner, Investcorp, defaulted on its $65 million CMBS loan in 2020, according to Trepp. Wells Fargo, representing the CMBS investors, won its push in court to acquire the mall through a $2,600 credit bid, or a bid equivalent to the debt.

In West Palm Beach, the trustees for CMBS investors in the Cross County Plaza shopping center sued to foreclose on the property in April after the loan’s special servicer alleged the owner was behind on payments. Mall owner Cross County Owner LLC, led by Bernardo Kohn and Paul Pollak, countered in court that it was never in default and that the special servicer had a conflict of interest because it did not disclose it was both the special and master servicer of the loan.

Westland Mall in Hialeah is not securitized in CMBS, according to Trepp.