CHARLESTON — A Georgia-based real estate firm has purchased the Charleston Town Center mall, the group announced in a press release Monday
The Hull Property Group, based out of Augusta, Georgia, is buying the property, which went on the market Feb. 3. The release did not provide a buying price.
“We are excited to join the Charleston community and own our first property in West Virginia. The Charleston Town Center can and should continue to be a viable shopping and dining destination,” said Jim Hull, owner of Hull Property Group. “Our goal is to reposition Charleston Town Center by working with Charleston leaders and downtown property owners to create a successful future for not only the mall but the entire downtown area. The first step is to address the exit of national retailers from downtown Charleston while we work together to develop the path forward.”
The Hull group owns 33 malls in 16 other states, most located in the Southeastern United States. The firm owns six malls in North Carolina, six in Georgia and four in Alabama. The Town Center will be its first property located in West Virginia.
“The stabilization of the mall should be a top priority. It occupies a prominent location in downtown Charleston and represents a great redevelopment opportunity,” Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said in the release. “We are pleased that a group with the experience of Hull Property Group has purchased the mall and we look forward to working with them.”
Goodwin first announced the sale during a radio show on MetroNews affiliate WCHS-580 Monday morning. Hull joined Goodwin to speak on the group’s purchase of the mall, but did not give many details about what will happen to the property in the near future.
Hull did say the new ownership group will work immediately to keep existing stores from leaving.
“We want to keep who we’ve got. We don’t want to lose any more tenants,” Hull said.
Hull said the firm has only sold one mall in the company’s history, and his group is in the business of renovating and developing. He said the Town Center mall is the firm’s only mall located in a city’s downtown area.
Hull said he looks forward to meeting with nearby business owners to collaborate on ways to develop the city’s downtown business area. He said the mall’s location in Charleston presents a unique opportunity for the firm to do something it hasn’t done in other areas, like developing a downtown economy.
“We really feel connected to the downtown,” Hull said.
“The decline of this property did not occur overnight, and it will not be fixed overnight,” said John Mulherin, Hull’s vice president of government relations. “Regional malls across the country are struggling with the new realities of retail — changing shopping patterns, the rise of internet sales and simply too much space and too few tenants. We must be adaptable and there are many ways to creatively reconfigure properties to accommodate retail, commercial, civic, hospitality and other type uses.
“We look forward to getting to know the downtown Charleston area better and being the good stewards this important property needs.”
The mall went up for sale in February after its former owners defaulted on a loan, leading to its purchase by U.S. National Bank for $35 million in January 2019. A number of stores have shuttered since the COVID-19 pandemic began 14 months ago, leading to questions about how the city and county can replace the property’s falling tax revenue if its value continues its decline.