CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Town Center Mall remains in receivership and Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said Tuesday the eventual new owner of the mall would have to deal with two “wildcards.”
The first is the deal mall owner Forest City made with Macy’s to keep the retailer at Town Center. Forest City now owns the Macy’s building not Macy’s. The retailer is not paying rent.
Jones said Tuesday on his 580 Live talk show on 580 WCHS Radio in Charleston any new buyer would also have to deal with the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority which owns the property the mall’s parking garages sit on. The city is paid $300,000 a year for the use of the property by the mall owners.
The national real estate firm CBRE Group assumed the day-to-day operation and management of the mall in January when it was placed under receivership. The mall owners defaulted on the $93 million owed on a loan from U.S. Bank Association. The bank filed a lawsuit to put the mall into receivership. The parties agreed to a settlement in January before Kanawha County Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit.
Jones said the Town Center is currently doing well. He said CBRE Group has done a good job in its receivership role. He said stopping the needle exchange program at the nearby Kanawha-Charleston Health Department has also helped greatly in improving the atmosphere.
Jones said he also still has questions about approximately $46 million the mall owners were supposed to use to pay down the debt.
“What happened to the money? If they paid off $54 million worth of debt in 2007 with a $100 million loan what happened to the rest of the money? And is anyone ever going to answer for that? The citizens of Charleston, with the Town Center, are left holding the bag,” Jones said.
Jones also said Tuesday he was approached a few months ago by someone representing the Youngstown, Ohio-based Cafaro Co. that has owned 50 percent of the mall, about repurchasing the operation minus the debt.
“They wanted me to be involved in an effort to get it back,” Jones said, adding he’s not sure if the Cafaro family has made an offer or not.