GGP shareholders approved the $15 billion takeover of the company by Brookfield Property Partners at a special meeting Thursday in Chicago where GGP is based.

With malls suffering from thinning shopper traffic, store closings and a “sea” of merchandise sameness, the merger should accelerate Brookfield’s efforts to reinvent malls for greater relevancy and mixed use. The deal was in great part spurred by another mega-property merger, Unibail-Rodamco’s $16 billion purchase of Australia’s Westfield Corp., which closed last month.

Brookfield, based in Toronto and New York, already held a one-third interest in GGP through its investment eight years ago that helped pull GGP get out of bankruptcy in 2010.

In the post-bankruptcy years, GGP has trimmed its portfolio to focus on its “A” properties, reduce its exposure to apparel retailers, and add food and entertainment options.

An aerial view of GGP’s Ala Moana Center.  Courtesy Photo

The developer has also divided up boxes once anchored by department stores to bring in tenants such as TJ Maxx and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Many of GGP’s malls have also become home to popular e-commerce brands such as Casper and Untuckit.

Brookfield has a global portfolio of properties, among them Brookfield Place in lower Manhattan, which has 375,000 square feet of high-end luxury shops including Burberry, Zegna, Tory Burch and Ferragamo, as well as London’s Canary Wharf Group, and Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz. In addition, Brookfield and is redeveloping much of Bleecker Street in Manhattan.

Among GGP’s flagship properties is the 2.2 million-square-foot Ala Moana megamall in Honolulu, the world’s largest open-air center, which was not long ago overhauled to the tune of $700 million. There’s also Tysons Galleria in McLean, Va.; Glendale Galleria in Los Angeles; Fashion Show in Las Vegas; Chicago’s Water Tower Place, and the Crown Building in Manhattan.

For the Brookfield-GGP deal to go through, at least two-thirds of the shareholder votes had to approve. GGP shareholders will receive $23.50 a share in cash, or either one Brookfield unit or one share of a new U.S. real estate investment trust for each share they currently own. The deal represented a slight increase from the $23-a-share cash portion Brookfield had offered in November.

A GGP special committee unanimously recommended the deal to shareholders earlier this year. It creates one of the world’s largest publicly traded property companies. Brookfield plans to create a new real estate investment trust under the ticker “BPR,” which will qualify as a REIT for tax purposes and issue shares in this transaction.

The transaction between Brookfield and GGP is expected to close next month.

The Salvatore Ferragamo shop in Brookfield Place.  Courtesy Image

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