A $30 Million Facelift
Still, the mall was in need of a great deal of work. With the economy and real estate market being what it was in the wake of the financial crisis, Capri had to be frugal with its investment while also delivering the upgrades promised to the local community. Primo brought in Lombard, an African American businessman who once partnered with and oversaw Magic Johnson’s business ventures, and later served as president of Starbucks Entertainment from 2004 to 2008. As president of the Capri Urban Investors subsidiary and a partner at Capri, Lombard oversaw the renovation and management of the mall.
The executive team allocated about $30 million for the renovations, and Lombard worked with the construction companies to develop a strategy to get the most bang for the buck. They also committed to hiring at least 30% of the construction workers from the local community. In addition to the food court renovations, they took nearly three years to:
-Â Paint the exteriors.
– Install state-of-the-art technology in the movie theater, allowing for IMAX and 3-D films. A new, slick exterior was installed, as was plush, stadium seating. It now operates as Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza 15 and shows first-run films.
– Install a children’s play area near the Sears location.
– Re-design the community room, which is now 2,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 200 people.
– Renovate the exterior of the bridge that serves as a transition from the mall to the Macy’s to allow for a brighter, modern look.
With occupancy around 94% and new tenants such as the Post & Beam, Staples, and Buffalo Wild Wings, Lombard says he expects the mall to become cash flow positive this month. “We figured out ways to make [the mall] much more attractive and inviting to our customers,â€ says Lombard. “We needed to transition from what takes place when you’re operating a C-level mall to how do you operate a mall that we have now taken to an A level, and make sure that the operating side of it–whether it’s maintenance and housekeeping to security–are in place.â€
Councilman Parks complimented Capri for selecting a team that was stationed locally who understood the community. “They’ve done a great job of listening to the community and giving them things that the community has been asking for: sit-down restaurants, a Staples store, and a clean and wholesome environment for shopping,â€ he says. “I think they saved that shopping center.â€
While 100% of Capri’s ventures are in the United States, Primo expects the company’s revenue streams to begin to shift to more international investment business. “It’ll start with a couple of key transactions, a couple of key acquisitions that we will make very similar to the key acquisitions that we made domestically. So, we can establish operating platforms in key countries, key regions outside the United States.â€ In seven to 10 years, Primo expects perhaps as much as 50% of the company’s top-line revenue to derive from international investors investing in the U.S. or Capri investing in markets outside of the U.S.
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