CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Mayor Danny Jones says he believes the Charleston Town Center Mall may be on its way to being sold.
U.S. Bank National America filed a lawsuit this week against the mall owners. According to the lawsuit, the owners breached a contract by defaulting on a multi-million dollar loan. The balance on the loan from Wells Fargo was nearly $100 million.
Jones said the current owners probably won’t be able to pay off the existing loan.
“The owners are just going to walk away. I don’t know how else to say it. That’s what it looks like,” Jones said on his talk show “580 Live” heard on MetroNews affiliate 580-WCHS.
The lawsuit, filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court, requests that the mall be placed under receivership until the property is sold.
Jones said potential buyers have already started to show interest since the mall defaulted on its loan in September.
“The owners might leave and then the mall would be sold. The people that are holding the paper on the mall would go through the process of trying to sell the mall and there have already been people through it,” he said.
The mall’s operators, Forest City Enterprises, of Cleveland, announced in May it was looking to sell its 26 percent stake in the shopping center to Australian-based Queensland Investment Corp., who owns 24 percent. Last month, QIC tried unsuccessfully to buy that stake.
There remains a lot of financial negotiations ahead, Jones said.
“Somebody is going to have to get it for a good price to make it operable. That’s going to be up to the people that hold the paper on it. That’s why, because there’s so much money owed on it, I don’t think that it will go south because of that,” he said.
Jones said he believes the mall will remain open.
“The just don’t want to close the Town Center and just say we’ll just book that loss. That’s always possible. Other malls like ours have closed, but I don’t think so,” he said.
Sears closed at the Town Center in April. Two other anchor stores, J.C. Penney and Macy’s, remain open.
The mall continues to operate on a normal schedule.