CHARLESTON, W.Va. — All signs are pointing towards the lender that owns the Charleston Town Center Mall to market it for sale but Charleston Urban Renewal Authority Executive Director Ron Butlin is not sure when that will happen yet.
The Charleston Urban Renewal Authority (CURA) held its first board meeting since the mall was sold out of receivership to the U.S. Bank Association, the group that has held the loan note on the facility. While Butlin said there have been no significant developments with the mall or the land CURA owns underneath its parking garage other than the sale, there seemed to be growing optimism about the future.
“At this point, we’re not sure if that is going to happen right away, if they are going to try and do things to the mall first,” Butlin said about the lender marketing the mall. “We just don’t know, they’ve only had it for less than 30 days. Ultimately we hope to work closely with whoever does invest in the mall to repurpose it into something interesting for Charleston.”
What could the facility be repurposed into?
“The answer to that is unknown,” Butlin said. “It depends on what other people view the economy of Charleston.
“Some places in the country malls are becoming more of an entertainment center. They are also becoming hubs of healthcare and residential. There are all kinds of things happening to malls around the country, especially urban malls. We are optimistic but we don’t have any idea until there is somebody legitimately interested in spending money.”
Charleston mayor Amy Goodwin set up a mall task force focusing on the transitions out of receivership and the future of the mall. The group consisting of Charleston city leaders, members of CURA, and representatives from the offices of both of West Virginia’s U.S. Senators met for the first time on February 4.
“The task force is great news,” Butlin said. “The task forces involved include the offices of Senator (Shelley Moore) Capito and Senator (Joe) Manchin and so hopefully we are keeping them informed so if something comes up where their political clout can be useful, they know what is going on.”
While the mall may begin to be marketed to potential suitors with help for the task force, Butlin said the land CURA owns underneath the garages won’t be actively marketed with the mall.
“Could a buyer of the mall want to talk to us about buying it?” Butlin said. “Sure, but it is not going to be packaged as part of the sale.”
The mall was sold for $35 million on January 24 in a public auction on the steps of the Kanawha County Courthouse. The former mall owners defaulted on a $93 million loan in late 2017 and U.S. Bank Association filed a lawsuit to put the mall into receivership.
The building is currently down to one anchor store as Macy’s announced the week of Jan. 24 that it would be closing its location at the mall by spring.