Taubman, Macerich to Buy Big in Kansas City

Taubman Centers Inc. and the Macerich Co. have agreed to purchase Country Club Plaza, a 1.2 million-square-foot retail and office asset.

Country Club Plaza, Kansas CityIt’s not every day that all-cash, half-million-dollar-plus property acquisitions take place in secondary markets but Taubman Centers Inc. and the Macerich Co. just committed to one such deal. The partners have agreed to purchase Country Club Plaza, a 1.2 million-square-foot retail and office asset in Kansas City, Mo., from Highwoods Properties Inc. for $660 million.

Country Club Plaza last changed hands in 1998, when Highwoods acquired J.C. Nichols Co., which had developed the property in 1922, in a $544 million deal The mixed-use development spans 15 blocks in the center of Kansas City and features 800,000 square feet of retail space, as well as 468,000 square feet of office accommodations located in a 10-story tower and above the street-level retail. Country Club Plaza is a popular destination, as evidenced by its enviable occupancy level of 95 percent.

While Taubman and Macerich will plunk down cold hard cash for Country Club Plaza, the 50-50 partners plan to place a long-term, fixed-rate loan on the property in an amount totaling 50 to 60 percent of the acquisition price tag, concurrent with or soon after closing.

Country Club Plaza FountainThe sale of the property known as the oldest shopping center in the U.S. dovetails perfectly with the corporate goals of all three parties: Taubman seeks to own high-quality, dominant assets in good markets; Macerich is pursuing a plan to transform its portfolio into one featuring irreplaceable, market-dominant properties; and Highwoods is in the midst of disposing of its retail-centric assets in Kansas City in favor of “Best Business District” office assets.

The closing of the Country Club Plaza transaction is on track to take place during the first quarter of this year, after which Taubman and Macerich will both manage the property.

In 2016, investor interest in secondary real estate markets like Kansas City will likely go on the upswing, according to PwC and the Urban Land Institute’s latest Emerging Trends in Real Estate report. When survey participants were queried on the best ways to prosper this year, the consensus was that focusing on key secondary markets is among the best bets. As noted in the report, “Price resistance is an issue for gateway markets. Secondary markets, especially 18-hour cities, are emerging as great relative value propositions. Such markets are ‘hip, urban, walkable, and attractive to the millennials’ while providing better future opportunities for rising net income and appreciation than the 24-hour city markets that led the post–financial crisis real estate recovery.”

The Country Club Plaza transaction could mark the beginning of a flurry of big-ticket, secondary-market transactions this year.