MetLife Group Loans $1 Billion for Taubman’s Mall at Short Hills

MetLife Inc. is among insurers providing a $1 billion loan to refinance Taubman Centers Inc.’s Mall at Short Hills, a 1.4 million-square-foot luxury shopping center in New Jersey.

New York Life Insurance Co. and Pacific Life Insurance Co. are also part of the group on the 12-year mortgage at 3.48 percent, New York-based MetLife said Wednesday in a statement. Proceeds from the loan were used to repay a $540 million mortgage that had a 5.47 percent rate, Taubman said in a regulatory filing earlier this month.

The Short Hills property “is one of the most valuable and productive malls in the U.S.,” DJ Busch, a senior analyst at Green Street Advisors LLC, said in an e-mail. It “has a wide draw and is viewed as a destination retail center in the Northeast.”

Insurers have boosted real estate lending to diversify beyond bonds as traditional holdings face pressure from near-record-low interest rates. MetLife, the largest U.S. life insurer, lent $12.1 billion on commercial properties last year.

The Mall at Short Hills, about 23 miles (37 kilometers) west of Manhattan, is a luxury shopping center featuring stores such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Prada and Tiffany & Co. Top-tier, or Class A, malls tend to have higher tenant sales per square foot than lower-quality regional properties, making them attractive to investors.

“MetLife has a strong relationship with Taubman and a long involvement in financing the Mall at Short Hills, one of the most successful regional malls in the country,” Robert Merck, senior managing director and global head of real estate for MetLife, said in the statement.

The Mall at Short Hills has sales per square foot of $1,210, ranking it No. 8 in the U.S., according to Green Street. The mall has a 96 percent occupancy rate, the property-research firm said.

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