N.Y. real estate developer gets Salisbury Mall for $2.5 million

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 9, 2012

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Saying he already has prospects for new tenants, a New York real estate developer has purchased the troubled Salisbury Mall.
Igal Namdar, owner of Namdar Realty Group, paid $2.5 million Feb. 28 for the 26-year-old mall at the intersection of Jake Alexander and Statesville boulevards. The mall went into foreclosure in 2010, but Namdar said he plans to fill the shopping center with new stores and attract more teenagers and young adults.
Namdar Realty Group is a privately held commercial real estate investment and management firm based in Great Neck, N.Y.
“We have a few prospects for the vacant space, and we hope with hands-on management to bring the mall back to where it was,” Namdar said.
He spoke enthusiastically about the mall and Salisbury.
“We love the location and the town,” he said. “We believe in it.”
All mall employees will remain on staff, and Namdar said he hopes to add jobs as the mall develops.
Namdar said he has potential tenants for the former Goody’s and Tuesday Morning locations and wants to attract younger shoppers with stores and entertainment geared toward them.
“We have a lot of older people coming to the mall, and that’s good,” he said. “But our goal is to get more stores dealing with kids.”
Some don’t agree with that strategy.
“Kids spend way less money than the older people,” Phillip Bradshaw said on Facebook. “Start catering to young kids and you’ll be in the same boat as the first owners.”
But Andrew Thomas Bintliff supported the idea.
“I am glad to see someone with some savvy taking control of the Salisbury Mall,” he said on Facebook.
Bintliff said he shopped at the mall as a teenager.
“The mall does need to cater to the younger crowd,” he said. “Let’s face it, they have few responsibilities and money to burn.”
Namdar said he wants a sportings good shop, video game shop, more restaurants and even a grocery store at the mall.
“That’s awesome!” Marla Cundiff said on Facebook. “Now I’ll be tempted to actually visit it, instead of just the anchor stores.”
The Salisbury Mall is so quiet nowadays, Donald Grant uses the half-empty shopping center as a good place to catch up on his reading.
Grant, who recently retired from Food Lion, has been coming to the mall for five years and said he’s watched it decline.
The indoor shopping area anchored by Belk and J.C. Penney and frequented by mall walkers now stands at 50 percent full. With the recent departure of Cato’s, the mall now has 15 stores, four restaurants, one snack shop, one kiosk and two temporary set-ups, a wine shop and a place that buys gold.
Eighteen of the 37 spaces inside the mall are advertised for lease, with rent ranging from $6 to $12 per square foot. Big Lots and Dollar Tree are also considered anchors.
The mall’s occupancy rate reaches 77 percent by including K&W Cafeteria, Bojangle’s, the movie theater and the Big Lots annex. Namdar now owns them all.
Even though the mall was in foreclosure, it continued to operate.
“The mall has good potential,” said Gregory Brown, manager of GQ Menswear. “We believe the mall can come back.”
Neal and Frances Alderman of Salisbury have walked for exercise in the mall for 15 years and watched the stores come and go.
“It’s sad what the mall has become,” Frances Alderman said.
Namdar, who said he has been in the real estate business for 15 years, was confident he can change that.
“Given some TLC and hands-on management, we can bring this mall back,” he said. “We are very excited to get going and get this process started and hopefully see a change.”
Namdar Realty Group owns more than 50 properties nationwide, including a mall in Canton, Ohio, and a shopping center in Fayetteville. The company’s portfolio includes more than 5 million square feet of commercial real estate in the United States and a number of retail strip centers and medical or office buildings.
The 319,659-square-foot Salisbury Mall sits on 38 acres, including one acre available for development.
The mall’s troubles in 2010 came after Florida investors Sam and Simone Spiegel defaulted on a $19.7 million loan.
Samco Properties, a commercial real estate company the Spiegels founded, bought the mall in 2003 but had not made a loan payment since July 2009, according to foreclosure documents.
At an auction one year ago, Wells Fargo Bank set an opening bid of about $10.3 million for the property. Wells Fargo, acting as trustee for the registered loan holders Credit Suisse First Boston Mortgage Securities Corp., took ownership of the mall March 25, 2011, after no one offered an upset bid.
North Salisbury Realty LLC, a company created by Namdar, now owns the mall.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.