Loan extension for Walden Galleria owners buys mall time

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The mall’s owner, Pyramid Management Group, said it had reached a new agreement with its main lenders for a three-year loan extension.

CHEEKTOWAGA, NY – A major turnaround is apparently underway for a major mall here in Western New York.

It’s because of a new loan extension for the owners of the Walden Gallery and a few other encouraging economic developments for the Cheektowaga Mall.

There are no guarantees with potential clouds on the economic horizon. But according to some retail analysts, the forecast is a little more optimistic for the Walden Galleria, especially after some were ready to cancel it with its heavy debt load and retail cut by COVID.

The mall’s owner, Pyramid Management Group, said it had reached a new agreement with its main lenders for a three-year loan extension. You may recall in March there were fears that Pyramid might actually repay its loan with the lingering fallout from COVID and the trend of online shopping.

Apparently, Pyramid originally wanted a five-year loan extension with a large payment due last month.

But Pyramid opened up about his recent financial dilemma. It was able to capitalize on the return of Canadian shoppers when the border reopened and there is its continued successful adjustment to also become an entertainment center with movies, attractions and restaurants.

Then while keeping many tenants, Galleria management added new ones like a large Primark store. This chain is based in England and is expected to open later this year with more upmarket clothing and accessories lines. Maybe it can help replace the departed Lord and Taylor department store.

This therefore amounts to a maneuver back to the brink according to Burt Flickinger, retail analyst at SRG Insight.

He says: “With $270 million in debt at the top and a valuation close to $200 million – it was really uncertain that Pyramid Mall would succeed. But to the credit of the mall operators and the management of Pyramid Mall, they rolled up up their sleeves and they’ve brought in some great domestic and international tenants. And they’ve brought in Primark and more will follow – and in your opinion almost 90% occupancy.”

Flickinger believes the Walden Galleria’s good news trend continues, with Primark and other new tenants encouraging even more to sign up for the complex which employs more than 4,000 people. That remains to be seen, but there is now some wiggle room for Pyramid now.

Pyramid Management did not call back for an interview. It should be noted that some of their other malls are still on shaky ground.

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