CHARLESTON — The Charleston Town Center mall is officially up for sale. Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin announced in a news release Wednesday the downtown retail center is now on the market.
“This is an exciting day for everyone who has worked behind the scenes for the past two years to prepare the mall to be put on the market,” Goodwin said.
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 Wednesday.
Goodwin said the city has put the work in to spruce up the area surrounding the downtown mall, which should be an incentive to prospective buyers looking to invest in the location.
“With the recent renovations to the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center, and the upcoming changes to Slack Plaza, we feel that this is an attractive place for future business opportunities,” Goodwin said. “We look forward to working with the sellers and any potential buyers to create a vibrant downtown attraction.”
A representative for Newmark, the commercial real estate firm handling marketing for the sale, also did not return a request for comment Wednesday.
The mall’s listing describes it as “one of the largest enclosed malls in the United States located in a downtown shopping district.”
“This offering represents a unique opportunity to acquire a vertical urban center with numerous avenues of value enhancement at well below replacement cost,” Newmark wrote in the listing. “It is also located in an opportunity zone with numerous development projects already planned or in progress around the periphery of the mall.”
Delegate Jim Barach, D-Kanawha, is a leading member of the community coalition “Save Our Town Center Mall.” Barach said Wednesday the work now begins to find the right buyer.
“It’s not a surprise that they’re trying to sell it,” he said. “The big question is who’s going to buy it?”
Barach said that, based on the information the group has gathered, whoever buys it will have to commit to some big changes.
“You’re going to probably have to repurpose the mall. I doubt they’re going to be able to go with just retail the way it is, because, obviously, they’re losing a lot of stores,” he said.
The Town Center mall lost several stores in 2020, which will have a significant effect on Kanawha County and the city of Charleston’s tax revenue, aside from the overall usage decline of the community staple.
But Barach said the space the mall offers, and its rich history, show that the right buyer can make a real impact in the community, with the right business approach.
“I think, if they repurpose it and make it into a real destination location, they could really reinvigorate it and get people from around the region coming in here and make it a viable, profitable location once again,” he said.
“(A buyer is) going to have to make a real big commitment to it, and they’re going to have to have deep pockets,” Barach said.