The Charleston Town Center mall sold for $35 million to U.S. Bank Nationial Association at an auction Thursday morning on the steps of the Kanawha County Courthouse.
Matthew Kingery, an attorney at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, submitted the lone bid on behalf of his client, whom he declined to name at the auction. Hours later, though, Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin’s office confirmed U.S. Bank as the purchaser.
Goodwin said in a statement that she will be working with the new owners on the mall’s future.
“We have been in contact with U.S. Bank National Association representatives to set up meetings to discuss next steps,” Goodwin said. “We will work closely with them to provide any assistance necessary to ensure a vibrant future for the entire city.”
This move brings the mall out of receivership, according to Lisa McCracken, the mall’s marketing director. The mall went into receivership in early 2018 after former owner Charleston Town Center SPE Inc. defaulted on a $93 million loan in November 2017.
Real estate group CBRE was installed as the court-appointed receiver for the mall and has been running the day-to-day operations since, including keeping the lights on, paying bills and collecting rent as directed by the court.
“Today’s legal action moves Charleston Town Center successfully out of receivership. CBRE remains committed to the future of Town Center and will continue to manage the property while working to meet the shopping, dining and entertainment needs of the community,” McCracken said in an email.
About an hour before Thursday’s auction, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit ruled that about $1.4 million in mall revenue from before the default is to be split between the receivers, with $867,026 going to CBRE and $375,000 going to Boyd Real Estate Resources, the receiver of the mall’s parking garage.
There was debate about whether Charleston Town Center SPE Inc. appropriately spent the $1.4 million in revenue. Tabit ultimately decided it should go to the receivers.
“What is the harm in taking that money and giving it to the mall and garage receiver to hold?” Tabit said. “It’s not going anywhere.”
That money will stay with the mall and will be spent with the permission of the court, CURA Executive Director Ron Butlin said.
The Town Center mall opened in 1983 and, in recent years, has seen some financial struggles. Most recently, Macy’s announced that it will close its doors in a few weeks.
That move follows a series of anchor stores leaving. The first blow came in 2001, with the loss of Montgomery Ward. After several years of trying to lure retailers such as Belk and Dillard’s to occupy the space, BrickStreet Insurance moved in in 2007.
In 2017, Sears closed its store at the mall. After Macy’s closes, J.C. Penney will be the mall’s only remaining anchor store.
Goodwin, though, is optimistic about the mall’s future.
“I am pleased this important step has been completed for the Charleston Town Center mall property,” she said. “Our team will continue to actively monitor the situation and stand ready to work with the purchasers to maintain our existing stores, shops and restaurants and explore new tourism opportunities.”
U.S. Bank did not offer comment before press time.