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Two mall operators file for bankruptcy

NEW YORK (AP) — Two mall operators filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, hurt by the coronavirus pandemic that has forced their tenants to permanently close stores or not pay rent.

Both companies, CBL and Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, said their malls will remain open as they go through the bankruptcy process. PREIT formerly owned the Logan Valley Mall. It sold the mall to Mason Asset Management and Namdar Realty Group for $33.2 million in September 2017.

Even before the virus, malls have struggled to attract shoppers who are increasingly shopping online or elsewhere. But the pandemic forced many of them to temporarily close for months.

The two bankruptcies come just before the crucial holiday shopping season. With reported coronavirus cases rising, malls will need to limit crowds during what is traditionally their busiest times of the year.

PREIT, based in Philadelphia, has more than 20 properties, including Viewmont Mall in Scranton.

Like other malls looking to attract shoppers, PREIT has added restaurants, movie theaters and gyms to its malls in recent years, which now account for about 24% of its tenants.

PREIT said more stores are paying rent now than earlier this year, but it still expects its revenue from rent to continue to suffer as long as COVID-19 affects “the return of customers.”

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