Spotlight Deal: Liberty University Buys Majority Interest In Lynchburg, VA Mall

| About: CBL & (CBL)

The Deal: Greysteel Real Estate's retail investment sales team assisted CBL & Associates Properties (NYSE:CBL) with the sales transaction of the River Ridge Mall in Lynchburg, VA to Lynchburg's Liberty University (LU). The transaction sold for a total of $33.5 million. The River Ridge Mall in Lynchburg was up for sale since late September of last year.

The Buyer: Liberty University, founded in 1971, is known as the largest private, non-profit university in the nation.

The recent deal between Greysteel Real Estate, CBL & Associates Properties and Lynchburg Liberty University made big news. But Lynchburg Liberty University is no stranger to the River Ridge Mall. In fact, LU completed their recent acquisition only four years after they bought a 112,000 former Sears building placed within River Ridge Mall for $6.9M.

The former Sears building LU acquired underwent extensive renovations for further utilization as a main operations center for LU's enrollment management team and television studio area for their School of Communications & Creative Arts. Stephen Lebovitz, CBL president & CEO stated, "The former Sears location provides a great opportunity to elevate the entire center through redevelopment of underutilized space, bringing new in-demand retail, entertainment and restaurants to the market." Liberty University President, Jerry Falwell, also shared his positive outlook on River Ridge's acquisition and benefits, "River Ridge represents part of an intentional diversification in Liberty University's investment portfolio. The University is pleased to help implement CBL's exciting vision for the mall and to assist bringing new and improved services to the region."

The Seller: Maryland-based Greysteel Real Estate specializes in providing a range of services transactional and advisory services to multifamily and retail investors. Managing director of retail investment sales, Gil Neumann, led Greysteel's team in the transaction. Greysteel partnered with CBL & Associates Properties - one of the largest owners of developers and managers of malls and shopping centers in the U.S. that manages 145 properties nationwide. Neumann commented on why CBL was selling the mall:

"[CBL is] recycling capital, taking some of their assets, I guess you can call them more regional, and selling them. They refer to them on their quarterly earnings call."

Even after the $33m transaction took place between CBL and LU, CBL still retains 25 percent of ownership of River Ridge and will continue leasing and managing the retail asset.

Location: The River Ridge Mall is located in the vicinity of Liberty University and is Lynchburg's only enclosed mall. T.J. Maxx, Victoria's Secret, Planet Fitness, New York & Company, and American Eagle are all a part of River Ridge's list of tenants.

Market: The general market outlook for Lynchburg, VA relies on its mix of distribution and manufacturing expansions. According to Forbes, Lynchburg is a "regional center for commerce and retail, with growing industries in nuclear technology, pharmaceuticals and material handling." However, the market is hindered by the lack of inventory, namely larger facilities.