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British Firm Buys Sherman Oaks Mall for $120 Million

May 01, 1996

The Sherman Oaks Fashion Square has been acquired by a British insurance company that plans to hone the mall's upscale image to cash in on the relatively healthy high-end segment of the otherwise anemic retailing market.

Prudential Assurance Co. Ltd. had been in discussions to purchase the shopping center for about a year and completed the acquisition last month for $120 million.

The company, which is not affiliated with the giant American insurer Prudential Insurance, is one of the largest mall owners in Britain and also has retail properties in the eastern United States.

The mall's former owner, City Freeholds USA, a subsidiary of an Australian firm, had owned the Fashion Square for about 10 years, during which it enclosed the former open-air mall and upgraded the tenant mix. A company spokesman said the sale was part of a broader move to divest its U.S. properties.

"We're going to try to capitalize on that upscale position," said Steve Plenge, senior vice president of the Yarmouth Group, a pension fund advisory firm that is managing the mall for Prudential.

Plenge said the mall averages sales in excess of $300 per square foot--a relatively healthy figure in today's soft retailing climate. And it is in a unique position, he said, because it fills a void for affluent shoppers who would otherwise have to travel to the West Valley or Glendale.

So, while major changes aren't planned, the mall will undergo a make-over that includes new lighting, paint and landscaping.

Yarmouth plans to complete the face-lift by the fall to coincide with the opening of Bloomingdale's.

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