New York-based Kohan Retail Investment Group buys NorthTown Mall for $49 million

A New York-based investment firm has acquired NorthTown Mall, with plans to attract new tenants and boost occupancy.

Kohan Retail Investment Group, of Great Neck, bought NorthTown at 4750 N. Division St. for $49 million from Brookfield Properties, a New York-based real estate company, Kohan CEO Mike Kohan said Thursday.

“We are looking for more tenants and want to work with locals who want to open up stores,” Kohan said.

The transaction closed on Feb. 11, according to documents from the Spokane County Recorder’s Office. Kohan’s legal name is Mehran Kohansieh, which was recorded on the sale deed.

Brookfield Properties did not respond to a request for comment.

NorthTown Mall has more than 955,300 square feet of retail space with 100 stores.

The mall’s current occupancy is about 80%, Kohan said.

Some of the mall’s tenants include Barnes & Noble, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney Co.. Previous anchor tenant Sears closed in 2019, followed by Macy’s last year.

The mall transaction marks Kohan Retail Investment Group’s entry into the Washington market. Kohan declined to comment further on expansion plans in the state.

Kohan Retail Investment Group’s portfolio includes 55 malls nationwide, in addition to NorthTown Mall, according to the firm’s website.

The NorthTown Mall sale is the first of its kind in the region since Coeur d’Alene-based Black Sheep Goods owner David Knoll bought the Silver Lake Mall – also in Coeur d’Alene – from Brookfield Properties last year.

Brookfield Properties also owns Spokane Valley Mall at 14700 E. Indiana Ave.

With increasing competition from e-commerce, the economic performance of regional malls has changed significantly in the past decade, according to Moody’s Analytics, a subsidiary of New York-based financial services company Moody’s Corp.

In a 2021 report, Moody’s estimated that 20% of the 1,000 malls in the country are likely to be renovated, repurposed or razed to make way for a different property type.

“The remainder will be able to survive if well-located and maintained to a high standard, attracting a mix of quality and on-trend tenants necessary to create a critical mass,” the report said.

Kohan Investment Group’s website indicates it strives to revitalize malls into a hybrid space that includes entertainment, food, retail and events.

“With the closing of many large anchor stores around the country in the past decade, those large spaces offer unique opportunities for venues of all different types: galas, expos, concerts, arcades, miniature golf and others have found their homes at some of these spaces at our malls,” Kohan Investment Group’s website says.

NorthTown Mall opened as an open-air shopping center in 1954, attracting more than 50,000 shoppers to its eight stores within the first two days of operation, according to a Spokesman-Review article published in 1998.

The mall has been expanded and renovated several times since then, with significant improvements occurring from 1989 to 1991.

The Sabey Corp., a Seattle-based real estate investment company, purchased the mall in 1989 and doubled its size to more than 900,000 square feet. The expansion, estimated to have cost more than $110 million, added a two-level parking garage and food court.

The expansion made NorthTown Mall the largest shopping center between Seattle and Minneapolis and also led to new tenants, including J.C. Penney, Emporium and Mervyn’s.

Within three years, a Bon Marche department store opened in the mall. In 2005, the Bon Marche was renamed Macy’s.

Sabey Corp. sold NorthTown Mall for $128 million to Salt Lake City developer J.P. Realty Inc. in 1998, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported.

Chicago-based General Growth Properties acquired the assets of J.P. Realty in 2002. The transaction included NorthTown Mall, Spokane Valley Mall and Silver Lake Mall in Coeur d’Alene.

Brookfield Property Partners, the parent company of Brookfield Properties, acquired General Growth Properties in 2018.