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Hillsdale mall in San Mateo brings big real estate investor on board

The Mercury News

December 7, 2021

SAN MATEO — The family-owned Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo has brought a big-time real estate investment firm on board as a partner in the busy Peninsula retail hub, the companies announced Tuesday.

The Bohannon family originally developed Hillsdale Shopping Center and opened it as an outdoor mall in 1954. Now, the family is bringing in Northwood Investors, a real estate private equity firm, as a partner in the 1.3 million square foot retail complex, which operates on 47 acres.

“We are committed to continuing our family’s relationship with this property and its service to the San Mateo community as we have done for the past 75 years,” said David Bohannon II, chief executive officer of the David D. Bohannon Organization.

Northwood Investors has completed equity investments totaling $7 billion in an array of retail centers in the United States and Europe, according to the company’s website.

“Northwood is grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Bohannon Companies on Hillsdale Shopping Center,” said Brady Thurman, a senior managing director with Northwood Investors.

Prior to the venture at Hillsdale mall, Northwood’s only investments in the Golden State were in Southern California retail centers, according to the company’s website.

“We are excited to bring our mixed-use capabilities to Hillsdale and look forward to a long relationship with the Bohannon family and the community of San Mateo,” Thurman said.

In 2016, spurred by the closure of a Sears store as a long-time anchor, the Bohannon firm launched a major upgrade to demolish the old Sears building and replace it with a modern wing known as the North Block.

Along the way, the mall’s principal owner obtained a $240 million construction loan from Pacific Life Insurance Co., according to documents filed with the San Mateo County Recorder’s Office in December 2016.

“This partnership with Northwood will preserve the family’s legacy and strengthen our ability to ensure Hillsdale can serve an even greater purpose for this community in the decades ahead,” Bohannon said.

Alarmed by the retail apocalypse ushered in by the dramatic shift to online shopping, the Bohannon family initiated Re:Imagine Hillsdale, an effort to sketch out a future for the shopping center.

Northwood says it will craft a long-term strategy to benefit the community, mall customers and the San Mateo community.

“We are confident that Hillsdale Shopping Center will continue its meaningful presence in the city for years to come,” Thurman said.