If White Flint Mall gets overhaul, Bloomingdale’s interested in coming back

National retailer Bloomingdale’s is interested in reclaiming its status as an anchor tenant at the White Flint Mall if the aging indoor shopping mall gets converted into an open-air town center.

That’s the word from mall owner White Flint LP, which is planning to spend nearly $4 billion to turn the mall into a 5.2-million-square-foot mixed development with new shops, offices, restaurants and residential units. White Flint, which is owned by principals of Lerner Enterprises and The Tower Cos., said in a court filing Monday it has been in talks about signing Bloomie’s to space in its planned town center.

There’s a catch, of course, White Flint made the disclosure in defense of its plans to redevelop the mall. Those plans are being challenged by another major retailer, Lord & Taylor, which sued White Flint in July seeking to bring a halt to the project until its lease expires in 2055.

White Flint says it needs to redevelop the site to stay competitive. In its response to Lord & Taylor, the mall’s owner said shopping malls have fallen out of favor among American shoppers since 1977, when White Flint opened. It said Bloomingdale’s, which was an inaugural mall tenant, decided not to renew its lease when it expired in March 2012 due to declining sales.

That was then. Now, in addition to a new Bloomingdale’s, White Flint said it is in talks with several other prospective anchor retailers.

“In light of these macro-economic trends, and particularly given Bloomingdale’s decision not to renew its lease, White Flint determined that, in order to continue operating a first-class shopping center on the site, it was imperative to redevelop and revitalize the project as an exciting open-air, mixed-use facility,” the mall owner said in court filings.

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