Sunrise Mall has a new owner. What’s in store for the aging Citrus Heights center?

Sunrise Mall has a new owner and a 50-year legacy, but the future of the Citrus Heights shopping center remains uncertain.

The 1.1 million-square-foot center was sold for $25.6 million to the New York-based investment firm Namdar Realty Group on Dec. 21. Citrus Heights Mayor Jeannie Bruins told residents at a community meeting Monday that she hopes Namdar will be “interested in engaging” with the city.

“We’re hoping this group of ownership will have a vision for our mall and will be willing to work with the city to create a viable, attractive amenity for Citrus Heights,” Bruins said at the meeting.

Susie Rodgers, Sunrise Mall’s general manager, confirmed the recent sale but declined to answer additional questions.

A representative for Namdar directed calls about Sunrise Mall to property management firm Mason Asset Management. A representative from the management firm did not respond to requests for comment.

The last publicly announced sale of Sunrise Mall was in 2015, to New York real estate company Spinoso Real Estate Group for an undisclosed amount. The seller in that deal was the Steadfast Cos. of Newport Beach, which had bought Sunrise in 2008 for an estimated $110 million.

Locals and experts hoped the Spinoso group would redevelop and revitalize the shopping center, but Sunrise Mall remains relatively the same with a notable exception — the loss of the Sears anchor store in July, as part of the company’s nationwide closures.

“The past owners, we had absolutely zero success in engaging with them as a city,” Bruins said at the meeting.

Sunrise Mall, which opened in 1972, now includes more than 80 stores and shops, with Macy’s and JCPenney serving as its anchors.

“When Sunrise Mall came, they basically put us on the map. They were the big talk of the region, they were the center of everything,” said Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost, who lives in Citrus Heights. “The mall was a big reason we could become a city, because of the revenue from the mall.”

Still, as Bruins said, the “old world of malls has gone the way of the dinosaur.” Industry estimates and experts report brick-and-mortar businesses and enclosed malls continuing to decline across the country with the rise of online retailers such as Amazon.

For Sunrise Mall’s new owners, however, business is booming.

In less than a decade, Namdar Realty Group, a private family-owned investment firm, has become of the top buyer of smaller class B and C malls across the country, according to an analysis by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.

The firm’s operating strategy includes investing in distressed malls or properties with lower-end stores, and minimizing maintenance and improvement costs, according to a report by Reuters last June.

Founder Igal Namdar told Reuters at the time that the firm planned to pursue purchasing healthier malls to improve the overall quality of his portfolio. Rodgers, Sunrise Mall’s general manager, declined to discuss the mall’s recent sales and traffic.

As Namdar continues to grow its portfolio, the company has been accused of mismanaging malls across the country.

Last month, the town of Brookhaven, New York, issued more than a dozen citations to Namdar for failing to maintain the local mall it bought in 2014. The fire marshal cited the mall for neglect, including rubble, litter and potholes in the parking lot, according to the Long Island Advance.

In 2017, two lawsuits accused Namdar of failing to maintain a mall in Jacksonville, Fla., “resulting in leaky roofs, broken electrical systems, and a roach infestation,” reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Landlord is an absentee landlord with a reputation as a ‘slumlord,’” reads one of the suits. “Landlord’s continuous breaches and material failures have rendered the premises unrentable.”

And last year, a company that recently bought a mall from Namdar in Bradenton, Fla., was slapped with a foreclosure lawsuit, with lenders alleging the new owner still owes more than $21.7 million.

In filings, the mall’s owners argue “Namdar blatantly defrauded and grossly mislead” the buyer and lenders by providing misinformation about mall tenants, income, expenses, capitalization and occupancy rates, according to the Bradenton Herald.

Namdar owns 43 shopping malls and 64 retail properties and more than 100 other office, mixed-use and residential properties, according to its website. Sunrise Mall is already listed on its property list.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee