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Town Center Reopening

Shoppers exit the Charleston Town Center mall.

More stores will be leaving the Charleston Town Center mall early in the new year, continuing a string of closures during the pandemic.

Chico’s, a women’s clothing and accessories retailer, and White House Black Market, a women’s apparel chain, will see their Town Center locations close next month, employees from both stores said. They must be out of their locations by Jan. 26.

Talbots, another women’s clothing store, and the free-standing Sephora location, are also reported to close. Talbots will close Jan. 23 and Sephora will be out of their first floor location in early January, according to their respective corporate spokespeople.

WSAZ-TV first reported these four closures.

Joseph A. Bank, Hollister, the WVU fan store and Francesca’s have left the Town Center since October, and the mall is down to just one anchor store — J.C. Penney — after losing Macy’s and Sears within the last few years. A fourth anchor store, Montgomery Ward, closed more than a decade ago and the space has since been occupied by Encova Insurance.

A representative for U.S. National Bank Association, which bought the mall for $35 million in January 2019, did not return a request for comment on the closures.

The closures will not only affect the Town Center mall’s future, they will have substantial implications for Kanawha County’s tax revenue.

In February, U.S. National Bank will have the chance to appeal their assessed value before the Kanawha County Commission.

From 2012 to 2019, the Town Center mall generated $33,000 of tax revenue for the state, $1.92 million for Kanawha County, $2.6 million for the school board and $1.24 million for the City of Charleston. The mall’s assessed value for those years was nearly $70 million.

The county assessor’s office found the mall’s value to be $61.7 million for the 2020 tax year, showing the mall was taking financial losses before the pandemic.

U.S. National Bank challenged that amount, saying the mall was actually worth $36 million. Following a three-hour-long appeal meeting between the bank and the commission, the two sides came to an agreement for assessing the Town Center mall at $51 million.

With the mall’s value falling, so do tax revenues for the county. Instead of nearly $325,000 going to the school board, the mall will generate around $238,000 for the school board this tax year — a nearly $90,000 difference.

Had U.S. National Bank’s $36 million figure been implemented, $167,616 would have been sent to the school board this tax year — a nearly 40% cut in revenue in just one year.

And the damage done to the mall’s value by the pandemic will not be shown until next tax year.

The Town Center mall’s occupancy rate on July 1, 2019, was about 82%, according to a private appraiser for U.S. National Bank. The bank declined to provide the mall’s occupancy rate in November after a string of store closures.

Reach Joe Severino at joe.severino@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or follow @jj_severino on Twitter.