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Southern Hills Mall

Shoppers visit Southern Hills Mall in Sioux City in this Journal file photo. The mall's owners recently retained ownership of the Morningside shopping center for $55 million.

SIOUX CITY |  Washington Prime Group of Columbus, Ohio, spent $55 million to retain ownership of Southern Hills Mall, Siouxland's largest indoor shopping center.

“We purchased Southern Hills from the lender — we had transitioned it to the lender — so we were the owner and we were able to retain the asset through the payoff of a mortgage loan,” said Kim Green, Washington Prime Group’s vice president of investors relations & corporate communications.

Based out of Ohio’s capital and largest city, Washington Prime Group is real estate firm that specializes in retail properties. The company is a spinoff of Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest mall operator.

Over the last few years, Southern Hills Mall changed hands several times.

Simon Property Group purchased it in January 2012, but it launched a spin-off company called SpinCo two years later to oversee its smaller properties such as Southern Hills.

That spinoff was rebranded as the Washington Property Group shortly thereafter.

Green said this latest transaction won’t affect the mall’s management or property teams, nor any business that leases space in the mall.

“It’s really just a mortgage transaction more than anything else; it’s very common in our industry,” she said.

Adjacent to Interstate 29, Southern Hills Mall was built for $21 million in 1980. It has 794,000-square-feet of enclosed retail space, additional retailers in the parking lot and was renovated a decade ago.

Southern Hills is anchored by Barnes & Noble, JCPenney, Scheels, Sears and Younkers.

It is also the only in-door regional shopping center of its caliber within a 90-mile radius, which is why Washington Prime wanted to retain it, according to a release from the company.

“Southern Hills Mall serves the growing Sioux City market and western part of the state,” the release said. “Sioux City is the fourth largest city in the state of Iowa, and the market consistently ranks as one of the top small markets for businesses.”

Green reemphasized those points Friday when she spoke with the Journal.

“With Southern Hills, we were really happy that we were able to retain the property,” she said. “It’s a proven example of a core retail center in our portfolios, it’s in a great market, a great catchpit area — not a whole lot of competition so we're very happy to retain the asset.”

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