Locally owned for almost 60 years, the Grossmont Center at La Mesa is now controlled by an out-of-town real estate investment trust that aims to reshape the 64-acre property in the years to come.

In June, Maryland-based Federal Realty Investment Trust acquired a 60% interest in the 92,000 square foot regional mall. The transaction valued the entire property at $ 175.8 million.

The publicly traded company characterized the site as a great redevelopment opportunity and will likely weigh in a similar retail and residential vibe to that designed at its flagship Pike & Rose property in Bethesda, MD.

“At this point, we have no concrete plan on how we want to change (Grossmont Center), other than that we are going to work hard to understand what the market, what the community, what the traders want”, said Jan Sweetnam, president of the western division of Federal Realty. “It’s fair to say that we would look at other uses, vertical uses. “

Opened in October 1961, the Grossmont Center is currently home to a mix of mom-and-pop boutiques and big box stores. The outdoor mall is 99% occupied and anchored by Target, Walmart, CVS, Macy’s, Reading Cinemas, and Barnes and Noble. Before the pandemic, the center had a busy calendar of events – vacation-themed affairs, blood drives, food festivals and pet adoptions – in a concerted effort to maintain a close connection with the surrounding community .

The sale is a big change for the famous Cushman family of San Diego, who have owned the mall since it was built. Descendant of the family and local businessman Stephen Cushman is known for wearing many civic hats, advising former mayors, serving as San Diego Harbor Commissioner for 12 years, and working as an influential member of the board of directors from the Convention Center. Cushman was also president of the Jacobs & Cushman Food Bank in San Diego.

Although the Cushman family retains a minority stake, Grossmont Center is now run by its new acquirer, who aims to increase the property’s value for its shareholders through an overhaul. In a recent presentation to investors, Federal Realty noted that almost all of the property’s existing leases are scheduled to expire in 2025, making the site a “blank canvas.”

“It’s unique in that you almost never can buy a mall where almost all of the leases expire at the same time,” Sweetnam told the Union-Tribune.

Still, the company’s planning efforts are still in their infancy, with buyers likely not experiencing any substantial changes – such as in hammer blows – until 2025 or later. Federal will consider different uses alongside retail stores, although housing appears to be the more natural solution. The site can accommodate up to 60 housing units per acre, or up to 3,851 units, according to a planning document from the city of La Mesa.

Federal Realty has been in the San Diego real estate market since the mid-90s. Currently, its only other regional asset is the Escondido Parkway next to Auto Park Way, an open-air mall where Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods are located. key tenants.

In total, the company has controlling interests in 105 retail projects – community and neighborhood shopping centers, as well as mixed-use properties – comprising over 25 million square feet of space with 3,000 tenants and 2 900 residential units. She specializes in the ownership and management of suburban open-air properties near major metropolitan markets accessible by car and public transit.

At the end of June, Federal Realty had $ 304 million in cash and a $ 1 billion line of credit.