Forest City Enterprises has closed on a three-year, $350m bridge loan through Morgan Stanley Bank to refinance the Ridge Hill retail center in Yonkers, New York, roughly two miles north of Manhattan.
The loan refinances an original 2007 construction loan on the 1.3-million-square-foot mixed-use complex, and the firm hopes it will help give new steam to what it has deemed to be slow leasing efforts at the property.
The firm’s New York subsidiary, Forest City Ratner Companies, developed and operates the complex, which opened in 2011 with less than 20% of its 975,000 square feet of retail space filled.
Forest City president and CEO David LaRue reportedly called leasing at Ridge Hill “painfully slow” during an earnings call earlier this year. A company spokesperson confirmed that occupancy stands at 75%, as it did when LaRue made that statement; but an announcement from the firm said that the loan will allow for the lease up and stabilization of the property, stating its intention to hit 90% occupancy by the end of the year.
“Given the strength of the retail market in New York right now, 75% [from 18%] is a huge gain, but still not optimal,” said Faith Hope Consolo, head of the retail division at DouglasElliman, which currently has no stake in leasing activities at Ridge Hill. “The refinancing should free up some cash to allow any extra construction, outfitting of spaces and promotions.”
While the neighboring Cross County Shopping Center “continues to dominate this market… Ridge Hill is a worthy competitor,” Consolo added.
Major tenants at the complex include Lord & Taylor, Whole Foods Market, National Amusements Showcase Cinema de Lux, LEGOLAND Discovery Center and Apple, among dozens of retailers and restaurants.
Forest City Ratner Companies is also the developer of the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, New York, which opened in September 2012 following a firestorm of controversy surrounding the plans for the site and its impact on the neighborhood.
The stadium is home to the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets and the company has tapped a subsidiary of Shanghai-based investor Greenland Group to act as a joint partner to complete the remaining commercial and residential components at that site, which will include 6,430 units of housing across 14 residential and two total buildings.
Forest City would not disclose additional details on the Ridge Hill loan.