Steeplegate Mall transfer is now official

Last modified: Tuesday, April 07, 2015
Nine months after Rouse Properties defaulted on a $47 million loan payment on Steeplegate Mall, the company has officially turned ownership of the Loudon Road shopping center over to the bank.

This development was an expected step toward what’s called a “deed in lieu of foreclosure,” in which an owner returns property to a lender voluntarily rather than in forced foreclosure. Thomas Lavigne, the mall’s general manager, announced the transfer in a press release Monday. Lavigne did not comment beyond that release, but records at the Merrimack County Registry of Deeds show the deal was documented Friday.

Day-to-day operations will continue as the lender looks for a new long-term owner for the mall. In the deed registry, the multiple parties listed alongside the deed’s transfer include Wells Fargo Bank and Midland Loan Servicing.

Steeplegate Mall opened in 1990 and Rouse acquired the mall in 2001, when General Growth Properties spun off 30 malls that were described as not among their top-performing sites. The mall was valued at more than $80 million in 2008, but the city’s assessing database now lists the mall at a value of just $30 million.

When Rouse purposefully skipped its balloon loan payment last year, the mall went into receivership. That transition period ended last week when the deed transferred entirely to the lender; Rouse has no more ties to Steeplegate Mall.

Finalizing that paperwork likely will not mean dramatic change for the daily operations at the mall, as the current management team will remain. Lavigne has been in place since last year and works for Colliers International, a global commercial real estate company with a local representative based in Manchester.

His team will “remain in place to take interim and long-term steps to strengthen the merchandise mix and to strengthen the mall’s local presence in the community,” the press release states.

“The mall has always been an integral part of the Concord community and the management team intends to continue to enhance that involvement,” the release says.

The release did not provide further details or a timeline to find a new owner, and it did not explicitly name Rouse or the lender. It did note an ongoing art display from Concord School District, which is located in a vacant storefront.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)