Highwoods plans sale of Country Club Plaza

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Highwoods Properties announced on Wednesday that it has listed its Country Club Plaza holdings for sale. In a news release, the company says that it intends to sell all or substantially all of its retail and office space to offset debt incurred from two acquisitions in Atlanta and Tampa.

Highwoods owns 804,000 square feet of retail space and 617,000 square feet of office space on the Plaza. The company says it anticipates it will complete the sale by sometime in early 2016.

"This is an opportune time for us to monetize our retail-dominated assets in Kansas City," Highwoods President and CEO Ed Fritsch stated in the release. "The Plaza, which has been a solid and improving performer for our company since our acquisition in 1998, is the Midwest's premier shopping destination."

The purchases made by Highwoods include the Monarch Centre in Atlanta for $303 million and the SunTrust Financial Centre in Tampa for $124 million. Eastdil Secured will serve as the listing agent for the sale of the Plaza.

The vice president of Kansas City's division of Highwood Properties, Glenn Stephenson, gave FOX 4 this statement:

Highwoods has a 17-year history as owner of the Country Club Plaza and has enhanced the Plaza as the Midwest's premier shopping and dining destination. Like everyone at Highwoods, I am proud of all we have accomplished. We remain focused on being excellent stewards of the Plaza throughout the sales process. We just wrapped up the Plaza Art Fair and are already focused on the Plaza Lighting Ceremony and the magic of the holiday season on the Plaza. The Country Club Plaza is Kansas City's Crown Jewel, not only now, but for generations to come.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James issued the following statement regarding the listing:

Highwoods Properties has been a partner with the city in many respects. As a former business owner myself, I understand the need to make decisions that account for developing business opportunities and trends. As mayor, I believe the Plaza always has been a focal point of civic pride, and I don't expect that to change with ownership.

J.C. Nichols opened the Plaza in 1923 as the first outdoor shopping center.