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Part Five of a Five-Part Series.
As Mark Twain quipped, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." So too is the reported retail "apocalypse" and "death" of the shopping center. In fact, U.S. retailers opened 1,326 more locations in 2017 than they closed. When restaurants are added to the mix, there were a total of 4,080 new openings in 2017 and another 5,050 openings planned this year.
The retail industry has faced significant challenges this past year. In 2017, more than 5,000 retail stores closed their doors, many of them portfolio-wide closures by well-known department-store chains that were synonymous with the traditional shopping mall. Toys R Us recently joined a growing list of more than 35 retailers that filed for bankruptcy in 2017, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Even more unsettling, Bankruptcydata.com reports that the Toys R Us bankruptcy is the third largest retail bankruptcy of all time.
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By Danielle C. Lesser
Malls across America, long suffering even before the rise of COVID-19, are now forced to confront a wave of store closures. Troubled retailers will, without doubt, seek to close their failing mall locations. To stem these efforts, landlords have applied to courts for injunctive relief to force stores to remain open and operating, despite lagging sales, through the enforcement of the “continuous operations provision” found in mall leases.
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Current circumstances present an opportunity for tenants to use new strategies to renegotiate or even terminate leases. This article looks at conventional legal strategies that may provide grounds for lease termination before turning to consider another, third, approach.
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As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a property owner might reach out to its lender for urgent, needed debt relief. The lender, which strives for a performing asset, an on-going relationship with its customer makes concessions. In exchange for these concessions, the lender should obtain credit and legal enhancements., which should also enable the lender to make concessions that are more meaningful to the property owner, its investors, its tenants and its business.
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Overall, the pandemic will likely result in long-term changes for law firm offices. While law firm leasing activity will eventually pick up, firms may decrease their overall footprints, taking up 10% to 15% less square footage because some people will continue working from home.