Foreclosure at the Mall: General Growth Files for Chapter 11

"The property owners will be competing, trying to draw the tenants by offering much lower rents," Yun said. "A combination of a rising vacancy rate and falling rents will naturally mean that the property prices will be coming down."

Some big chains are already asking for leases to be renegotiated and others are likely to ask when their leases expire in the next year or two, Whalin added.

But don't expect the malls themselves to close. Both Whalin and Niemira said the properties are profitable; it's just that some mall owners have too much debt to ride out the recession.

"The regional mall is here to stay as part of the retail environment," Whalin said. "It isn't going to go away anytime soon."

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