If purchased, commissioners have various ideas for mall property

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 5, 2013

SALISBURY — The Salisbury Mall is not expected to house the school system’s central office if purchased, Rowan County Commissioners Vice Chairman Craig Pierce said Wednesday.
Pierce said the $25,000 auction deposit commissioners authorized County Manager Gary Page to write following Tuesday night’s closed session would privy the county to maintenance records and details about the mall’s structure.
“At this point it’s all preliminary,” Pierce said. “To tell you that we have a game plan would be misleading.”
Still, he doesn’t expect a future game plan to include a Rowan-Salisbury School System central office.
“We’re not looking at this as an alternative to the current proposal that the city has to build the central office. It’s not even in our thoughts,” Pierce said. “We’re looking at, we have several county buildings that have reached a point to where they’re going to cost a tremendous amount of money to upfit with new equipment or rebuild.”
One possibility for the mall, he said, would be a place to store confiscated items for the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.
Pierce said Sheriff Kevin Auten has indicated to commissioners on several occasions that the department needs a place to store large pieces of evidence until the cases go to trial.
“What he’s identified is quite a large building,” Pierce said. “That’s a possible need. We’re looking at several other things — properties that we currently lease. We’d like to put that under one roof.”
Following a closed session meeting Tuesday evening, commissioners refused to shed light on a vote to authorize a $25,000 check for an unnamed project.
Sources told the Post the vote put the county in the running for the mall auction scheduled to start on Sept. 23.
County officials found their tongues much looser Wednesday when asked about commissioners’ plans for the mall if the county wins a potential bidding war.
County Manager Gary Page said the $25,000 is refundable and gives the county access to information about potential repairs or renovations for the mall.
If purchased, Page said, the building could be used for warehouse space or an expansion of the early college program. He said commissioners have discussed several options for the potential property, but did not cite any specific departments expected to be moved.
“We’ve talked about an incubator for small business. There’s a number of things that would be on the table for consideration,” Page said. “One of the board members made a comment that it was not an indicator of trying to buy this with the intent that it’s an auction for the school central office.’ ”
Bidding for the mall is scheduled to start on Sept. 23. The deposit amount is $25,000.
Page said the money is refundable if the county is unsuccessful in the bidding war.
Auction.com, which bills itself as the “Nation’s Online Real Estate Marketplace,” has put the starting bid on the 27-year-old mall at $1.5 million.
Page said specific details about the mall’s roof, parking lot and heating and air conditioning systems will be available through the website after the funds are transferred. He expects to cut the check sometime later this week.
“The key is that approving the $25,000, that puts our name in the hat, that we’re interested in buying the mall and it gives us access to do our due diligence in trying to assess in what would be a fair bid,” Page said. “On anything, when you’re buying property on behalf of the public, you need to do your homework.”
The county plans to review details regarding potential repairs or renovations at the mall in coming weeks, Page said.
“We’ll be looking at all that information over the next two weeks and reporting back to the board on Sept. 16 and at that time they’ll give me a number — a not to exceed bid — and that way I can proceed in the bid process with a cap,” Page said. “As far as that number, I haven’t been given that number yet. Last night was just the first step to participate in the process.”
Page said he was first notified of the potential bid last week when a few commissioners approached him.
“A couple of board members came to me and said they had been thinking about this, might be a good move,” he said. “If you could get 300,000 square feet of office space for $1.5 million that would be an unbelievable buy.”
Nadmar Realty Group of Great Neck, N.Y., is the mall’s current owner. The company, a privately owned real estate investment and management firm, bought Salisbury Mall for $2.5 million in February 2012. The mall had gone into foreclosure in 2010.
Auction.com’s listing puts the mall’s net operating income at $1.18 million.
Located at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd., the mall was built in 1986 and has 316,964 square feet of retail space.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.