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Southpark owner files Chapter 11, insists 'business as usual' for the shopping center

Bill Atkinson
The Progress-Index

COLONIAL HEIGHTS — The owner of Southpark Mall said Monday it has voluntarily filed for bankruptcy protection, but shoppers should not see any immediate disruption in service.

In a statement on its website, Tennessee-based CBL Properties said it filed two petitions for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a federal court in Texas, citing an unsecured debt of around $1.5 billion. The company said it will use the process to implement a restructuring support agreement it entered last August with some of its noteholders to work toward settling that debt.

"CBL’s customers, tenants and partners can expect business as usual at all of CBL’s owned and managed properties," the company said in the website statement.

As of Sept, 30, CBL had $258.3 million in cash on hand and sellable securities.

News of the bankruptcy comes just as Southpark — the Tri-City area's largest shopping center with more than 80 stores and four anchors — is preparing for a COVID-19 affected holiday shopping season. The mall recently announced plans for a pandemically protocol Santa visit program.

More:Mall plans to bring Santa Claus this year, but visits will follow pandemic protocols

"We are confident that this path will enable us to emerge stronger," CEO Stephen D. Lebovitz said in the company statement. "We are committed to our mission to serving our community to the best of our abilities for years to come.

Like many shopping centers across the nation, Southpark Mall was already reeling from the effects of increased online shopping when the pandemic hit. The mall greatly reduced its operating hours in March before being forced to shut down completely when Virginia went on COVID-19 lockdown just a few weeks later.

Southpark reopened under reduced operating hours in May.

Anchor tenants JCPenney, Dick's Sporting Goods, Macy's and Planet Fitness began gradually reopening as pandemic restrictions eased up. A fifth anchor, Regal Southpark Cinema 16, opened its doors shortly after the mall came back online, but a spike in COVID-19 positive test numbers forced its owner, Regal Entertainment, to shutter Southpark and all of its theaters until further notice.

More:Regal closing 536 movie locations in the U.S., curtains closing for 45,000 employees

For more information about the CBL restructuring, click here.

You can reach Bill Atkinson at Follow him at @BAtkinson_PI. Follow The Progress-Index on Twitter at @ProgressIndex.