COLUMBUS, Ohio — Washington Prime Group, a company that operates more than 100 malls across the U.S., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday citing COVID-19 challenges.
The Columbus-based company, which spun off of the largest mall owner Simon Property Group in 2014, said the pandemic forced closures and many shopping centers were unable to pay rent.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges for many companies, including Washington Prime Group, making a Chapter 11 filing necessary to reduce the Company’s outstanding indebtedness,” the company said in a press release.
Washington Prime's stock is down 60% this year, and the company is nearly $1 billion in debt, according to filings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. The company's assets are estimated to range from $1 billion to $10 billion.
The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing will allow the company to stay in business while it works out a deal with creditors to pay off its debt. Washington Prime said it has secured $100 million in "debtor-in-possession financing" to keep operations afloat as court proceedings go forward.
"The company's financial restructuring will enable Washington Prime to right size its balance sheet and position the company for success going forward," said CEO Lou Conforti said in the release. "During the financial restructuring, we will continue to work toward maximizing the value of our assets and our operating infrastructure."
Because of the pandemic, many chains have had to file and exit bankruptcy, including J.C. Penny, Stein Mart and New York & Company — some of which were included at Washington Prime properties.
Of its 102 properties, Washington Prime owns nine malls in Ohio, including Polaris Fashion Place in Columbus, Southern Park Mall in Youngstown and Great Lakes Mall near Cleveland.