Friday, April 24, 2009

Letter from the General Manager

This just popped into my inbox from Greg Hamm so I thought I'd share.

Dear Friends,

By now most of you know about the recent decision by General Growth Properties, Inc. (GGP) and certain subsidiaries to seek relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. In light of the active, long-standing partnership with the community that has been so central to creating a winning vision for downtown Columbia's future, I thought it appropriate to briefly address why this decision to reorganize was made, and what it means for properties in Columbia and the formal process now under review by the Howard County Planning Board (ZRA 113).

Chapter 11 reorganization

GGP is the ultimate parent company of approximately 750 subsidiaries, not all of which were involved in the recent filings. Local properties NOT part of the filings include:

• The Mall in Columbia
• Columbia Master Planned Communities
• Columbia Town Center Development

After months of negotiating with creditors, our Board of Directors and management team determined that a court-supervised restructuring is the best means of preserving the value of the company. In the simplest of terms, the filing aims to reduce and restructure GGP's debt because unprecedented circumstances in the credit markets have made it impossible to refinance maturing debt. As a preliminary matter, it's important to clarify that Chapter 7 is the form of bankruptcy which results in liquidation of a company and its assets. By contrast, Chapter 11 reorganization provides time to restructure and reduce debt while continuing to operate.
We are very aware that this is a complex process with many moving parts. For anyone who is interested in keeping current on the filings and related developments, including access to all public documents, please visit our website,

In the meantime, business as usual

All GGP properties, whether or not they have filed, will continue to operate as usual. The filing will not cause delay or alter GGP's pursuit of the public approvals relative to downtown Columbia and the General Plan Amendment submitted in October of 2008. We believe that Columbia's underlying real estate fundamentals remain strong and that the plan can be realized once market conditions improve. As in all great communities, adversity and challenge will hone our skills and deepen our resolve. It is precisely because of these economic challenges and uncertainties that a coherent plan for Columbia's downtown is so important.

A strong company

As most of you know, GGP is a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) with a primary business of owning and operating over 200 shopping centers in 44 states, in addition to a number of office buildings throughout the country. A smaller part of our business is the ownership and development of five master-planned communities. GGP's holdings in Columbia include all three of these business lines.

Although GGP's core business remains sound and is performing well with stable cash flows, the company believes that Chapter 11 is the best process for restructuring maturing mortgage loans, reducing the company's corporate debt and establishing a sustainable, long-term capital structure for the company. The collapse of the credit markets has made it impossible for GGP to refinance maturing debt outside of Chapter 11.

GGP remains committed to finishing the planning process that this community started together nearly four years ago. We want to thank all of you for your continued support during a long and challenging process.

Please send any questions or comments that you may have to
Columbia, now more than ever!

Greg Hamm
Vice President,
Master Planned Communities
General Manager, Columbia

There you have it.


Anonymous said...

Russ Swatek takes Long Reach (against James Howard)