10 to Watch: Salisbury Mall

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 1, 2011

Whoever buys the Salisbury Mall will make news in 2011 by making a bold choice to take over the struggling retail center at the intersection of Jake Alexander and Statesville boulevards.
Note: The location of the mall does not include the word “interstate” or the number 85.
The mall’s lack of proximity to I-85 has fueled critics for years. But proponents say the mall can still play a vital role in Rowan County retail and economic development.
“Whoever buys the mall is going to be one of the key players in 2011,” said Bob Wright, president of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s an asset. Not a lot of towns this size, or even bigger, even have a mall.”
The mall can serve as a drawing card for the community, just like downtown, Wright said.
“Hopefully somebody will see it as a good investment,” he said. “The mall is important to us.”
The new owner will face a recruitment and marketing challenge to bring retailers and shoppers back to the mall. While figures provided by mall management put the occupancy rate at about 85 percent, that includes the freestanding K&W Cafeteria.
With gaping vacancies where Goody’s, Hallmark, Hibbett Sports and others once stood, the mall does not feel 85 percent occupied.
While potential buyers might eye Salisbury Mall for purposes other than retail, many local leaders say they hope the mall remains a shopping center, which generates much-needed sales tax revenue and jobs for Rowan County and Salisbury.
Lenders foreclosed on the mall Nov. 9 after Salisbury Mall Associates LLC, owned by Sam and Simone Spiegel of Florida, defaulted on the loan. They owe $19.7 million on the note, according to court records.
The sale of the mall has been delayed until Jan. 19. Merchants, however, are open for business.
— Emily Ford
Name: Future owner of the Salisbury Mall
Age: Young at heart
Occupation: Eternal optimist
Favorite book: “The Little Engine that Could” by Watty Piper
Most surprising song or artist in your music collection: “Take a Chance on Me” by ABBA
Who will you watch in 2011?: Whoever opens the Dunkin Donuts.
Why this person is one to watch in 2011: Whoever buys the mall will decide the future of Salisbury’s largest indoor retail center.
Check back for reaction from the lucky winner on Jan. 28, the end of the 10-day upset bid process.