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Shopping-Center Owners Urge Trump to Provide Relief

ICSC sent a letter to the White House asking for business interruption coverage.

(Bloomberg)—A trade group representing shopping-center owners is urging the Trump administration to provide relief to retailers, restaurants and landlords as the coronavirus pandemic shuts down commerce around the U.S.

The government should guarantee or pay for business-interruption coverage, the International Council of Shopping Centers said Tuesday in a letter to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Store closures “are placing an insurmountable strain on our members, and we believe federal government action is urgently needed,” the group said in its letter.

The administration is discussing a plan that could amount to as much as $1.2 trillion in spending -- including direct payments of $1,000 or more to Americans within two weeks -- to blunt some of the economic impact of the widening coronavirus outbreak.

“Without ensuring the stability of our tenant base, the repayment of up to $1 trillion of secured and unsecured debt underlying the shopping center industry will be at risk,” ICSC CEO Tom McGee wrote in the letter. “This will jeopardize the entire industry and cause long-term damage to financial markets.”

The industry “will require further federal support associated with outstanding debt obligations as well as tax and regulatory relief,” he wrote.

U.S. mall operators have seen their stocks nosedive more than the S&P 500 Index. In the past month, companies including Simon Property Group Inc. and Macerich Co. have fallen close to 60% or more.

Retail-focused real estate isn’t the only industry lobbying for federal assistance. Executives from the hotel, lodging and gaming industry met Trump on Tuesday and are seeking $250 billion from the U.S. government to help cope with what is essentially a travel shutdown.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gillian Tan in New York at [email protected].

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at [email protected]

Dan Reichl, David Scheer

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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