CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. — A major turnaround is apparently in the works for a major retail center here in Western New York.
That is because of a new loan extension for the owners of the Walden Galleria and some other encouraging economic developments for the mall in Cheektowaga.
There are no guarantees with potential clouds on the economic horizon. But according to some retail analysts, the forecast is a bit brighter for the Walden Galleria, especially after some were ready to write it off with its heavy debt load and COVID clipped retail trade.
The mall's owner, Pyramid Management Group, says they worked out a new deal with their primary lenders for a three-year loan extension. You may recall back in March there was concern Pyramid might actually default on its loan with the lingering fallout from COVID and the online shopping trend.
Reportedly Pyramid originally wanted a five-year extension of the loan with a major payment due last month.
But Pyramid talked the way of its recent financial dilemma. It has been able to bank on the return of Canadian shoppers as the border reopened and there is its successful ongoing adjustment to also become an entertainment center with movies, attractions, and restaurants.
Then while keeping many tenants, Galleria management added some new ones like a Primark department store. That chain is based in England and is due to open sometime later this year with more upscale clothing and accessories lines. Perhaps it can help replace the Lord and Taylor's department store which left.
So it adds up to a back from the brink maneuver according to Burt Flickinger who is a retail analyst with the SRG Insight firm.
He says, "With 270 Million dollars in debt at the peak and a valuation close to 200 Million - it was really iffy whether Pyramid Mall would make it. But to the credit of the operators of the mall and management of Pyramid Mall, they rolled up their sleeves and got some great national and international tenants to stay. And they got Primark to come in and others to follow - and to your point close to 90 percent occupancy."
Flickinger feels the Walden Galleria's good news trend continues with Primark and other new tenants encouraging, even more, to sign up at the complex which employs over 4,000 people. It remains to be seen but there is now some breathing room for Pyramid now.
Pyramid Management did not call back for an interview. It must be noted that some of their other malls are still on shaky ground.