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Owner reaches sales agreement on Washington Crown Center

July 18, 2016 GMT

A sales agreement has been reached for Washington Crown Center.The owner, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, has executed a deal to sell the North Franklin Township mall and has secured a nonrefundable deposit from the buyer, according to an email Monday afternoon from PREIT spokeswoman Heather Crowell.She declined to list a price or name a buyer, and said the deal is expected to close during the third quarter of this year.Civil Knox, assistant marketing director and office manager at Washington Crown Center, declined to comment Monday morning.In a news release earlier Monday, PREIT announced it is selling Beaver Valley Mall in Center Township. The move, according to the company, was sparked by Royal Dutch Shell’s announcement last month that it will build a multibillion-dollar ethane cracker plant along the Ohio River in Beaver County - about two miles from that mall.“This development presents an opportunity to maximize the value of the property upon sale while preserving capital for other investments,” the Philadelphia-based firm said in a statement.The company put Crown Center and Uniontown Mall on the market in January 2015. Uniontown Mall was sold in August.PREIT has owned Crown Center since November 2003, when it completed a merger with Crown American Realty Trust, which owned 26 malls.The investment company put considerable effort into upgrading the 676,000-square-foot center with nearly 85,000 square feet of new retail attractions over the past 2 1/2 years.The mall is anchored by Bon-Ton, Macy’s, Gander Mountain and Sears. Through the first quarter of this year, the mall averaged $318 in sales per square foot and nonanchor occupancy of 87.9 percent.Despite the sale, pending sale and would-be sale of three Southwestern Pennsylvania shopping destinations, Crowell said PREIT is committed to this form of retail.“Malls are, and continue to be, PREIT’s core business,” she said. “As we look to improve portfolio quality, we are focused on remerchandising and redevelopment projects to optimize shopper appeal - welcoming in-demand and new-to-portfolio tenants; proactively replacing department stores with contemporary anchors; and capitalizing on opportunities to redevelop high-quality assets to drive growth.”