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Warnings Multiply As South Florida Retail Landlords Brace For Coronavirus Fallout

Owners of the nation’s malls, retail plazas and Main Street storefronts are sounding alarms over the magnitude of the financial wreckage in store for the U.S. economy as efforts to contain the coronavirus appear destined for a prolonged slog.

The clearest sign to date of the pandemic’s potential to inflict deep and long-term damage was made clear as details emerged last week about thousands of so-called Watch List loans. The disclosures are a monthly ritual on Wall Street to keep investors in commercial mortgage-backed securities apprised of the health of the properties backing their portfolios.

Nearly 700 retail properties ranging from strip malls to stand-alone big-box stores were slapped with the “Watch List” moniker between March 15 and April 15, as the nation rolled out shelter-in-place policies and saw waves of business closures to combat the Covid-19 outbreak. The increase in CMBS properties flagged for concern marked a 45% increase over the number of Watch List retail properties recorded a month earlier.

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