University Mall in Foreclosure, Could Help With Long-Term Redevelopment

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A shake-up for a local shopping center.

Owners of the University Mall in South Burlington have moved the property into foreclosure.  It’s a place that’s been rumored with redevelopment for several years.  And that, redevelopment, could be the reason behind the decision.

“You’d be denying fact if you didn’t say a lot of people identify the University Mall with South Burlington,” said South Burlington City Manager Kevin Dorn.  He says he wasn’t surprised to learn Todd Finard had foreclosed on his U-Mall property.  “We’ve been talking with Todd and the management of the mall property for some time about this.  We realize this is a complex, financial proceeding he is going through,” stated Dorn.

Thursday, the Burlington Free Press first broke the news, the 55-acre property would be repossessed most likely by the end of the year.  Some question the decision, knowing that Finard has been working to redevelop the mall.  Cathy Davis says that is most likely the reason behind the announcement, “It’s an opportunity for that property to refinance, restructure their debt, and hopefully be able to utilize that property in a way that’s going to be better for the community.”

Davis is a part of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce.  She says the mall has been a member of the Chamber for years.   She says it’s a property that needs an update.  “That property isn’t worth what it used to be.  I think we’ve seen in a couple of different projects that, the way people want to shop, the way people want to socialize is changing,” she said.

“We’ve been working with him and his design team for over a year now, looking at different ways to modify the property, to bring it more into conformance with today’s thinking,” said Dorn.

Despite the foreclosure Dorn says the mall property remains a part of South Burlington’s City Center plans.  He expects Finard to buy back the property once it’s gone through the foreclosure and refinancing process.  “They are well situated with their creditors to continue moving forward.  they know the property, they know the tenants, they have relationships,” added Dorn.

He wants consumers to know this situation isn’t unique to the University Mall, “When you look across the country these types of malls are troubled.  Owners are moving in a new direction, and that’s what Todd’s doing.”

Local 22/Local 44  reached out to Todd Finard several times throughout Friday.  He did not return our calls for an interview.

City Manager Kevin Dorn says his staff will continue to work with Finard’s design team, working on redevelopment plans.

 

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