GATEWAY MALL SOLD: New owners promise positive changes

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Prescott Gateway Mall patrons walk down the main hall while shopping Tuesday afternoon in Prescott.  Dallas-based Tabani Group bought the bank-owned mall this past Monday.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Prescott Gateway Mall patrons walk down the main hall while shopping Tuesday afternoon in Prescott. Dallas-based Tabani Group bought the bank-owned mall this past Monday.

PRESCOTT - A Dallas-based company that owns more than five shopping malls throughout the country bought the Prescott Gateway Mall Monday for an undisclosed amount, a company official announced.

The Tabani Group bought the bank-owned mall off Highway 69 and Gateway Boulevard because it is "extremely high-quality real estate," said Abbas Kanji, who works in acquisitions for the family-owned company. "It is a very beautiful structure."

Kanji said Tabani officials met with Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall "and his team" in advance of the sale.

A check of the Yavapai County Assessor's Office rolls shows J.P. Morgan Clearing Corp. in Miami Beach, Fla., as the former owner of the mall, which opened in 2002 and includes Dillard's, J.C. Penney and Sears as major tenants.

Urban Retail Properties, based in Chicago, took over management of the mall June 1, 2012, after Phoenix-based Macerich parted ways from owning the mall.

The Phoenix office of CBRE brokered the sale, Kanji said.

"When the mall was owned by the bank, they were not willing to structure leases," Kanji said. "We can make a deal with the tenants."

Kanji said Tabani wants to invest in the mall and conduct a variety of events for the community.

"We are also going to focus on bringing some really high-quality tenants," he said.

Since the Great Recession, the mall has lost major and small tenants, including Barnes & Noble, which closed; and Celtic Crossings, a restaurant that moved to the Frontier Village shopping center.

Mall tenants expressed optimism Tuesday afternoon about the new owners.

"I'm very, very happy because the last three years I have had the worse years in my life in terms of sales," said Hussain Mohseni, owner of Perfume Gallery for seven years.

Mohseni said the previous owners "did nothing" for the tenants.

"The mall did not have a father," he said. "Now, it does."

The new owners have created a favorable impression for Mark DeRosa, who opened Games People Play in February and Nate's Arcade next door in October. His wife, Margie, who shares ownership with him, opened My Cup Runneth Over in October in the food court.

The new owners "have been very fair with us," DeRosa said. "The mall has been very good to us."

DeRosa said he moved Games People Play from its previous location for seven and a half years on Second Street in Prescott Valley because the mall provides better visibility.

"And we have met a lot of previous customers," DeRosa said.

Jill Dougherty, a hairstylist at Regis, said she is "very excited" about the ownership change, and hopes the mall makes a turnaround.

"That is what they promised," she said.

For more information on the Tabani Group, log onto www.tabanigroup.com.

Follow reporter Ken Hedler on Twitter @KenHedlines