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County drops out as mall price climbs to $4.33M

SALISBURY — The Salisbury Mall sold Wednesday to a bidder for $4.33 million, according to online auction house Auction.com.

It might be weeks before the identity of the winning bidder is revealed, but one thing’s for sure — it isn’t Rowan County.

County Manager Gary Page said commissioners gave him a “conservative number” that he could not exceed in the bidding war. That amount was less than $3.75 million, but Page said he could not confirm the exact bid ceiling at this point.

An online auction for the 27-year-old mall was expected to end about 12:30 p.m., but continued bidding extended the time period to about 2 p.m.

Page said he did bid on the property, but later bids were too rich for the county’s blood.

“My board authorized me a conservative number that we thought we can purchase it for and retro-fit it and it would be a very good deal,” Page said.

But as the bidding war continued, Page said, the bid amount exceeded the price he was authorized to pay.

“I guess the good is that somebody out there wants it,” Page said, “which means that they have an intent to use it and it’ll stay on the tax books and they’ll continue to pay taxes.”

Jon Murchison, a spokesman for Auction.com, said the company does not provide details about the purchaser until after the matter is officially closed with the site.

“Generally, the property is closed 30 days after the auction date,” Murchison said.

Page said he’s also glad the county did its “due diligence” and tried to get the property at a low cost.

Still, Page said, the county could be back in the running if the auction winner doesn’t pay the required 10 percent earnest money within a 24-hour period.

“If, whoever the high bidder is right now fails to write the money to the escrow account,” Page said, “and is determined to not be a valid bid, we could be back in it. Short of that, this is probably over.”

The mall is valued around $6.1 million, according to county tax records.

In 2012, New York real estate developer Namdar Realty Group purchased the foreclosed property for $2.5 million.

The mall went into foreclosure in 2010, but Igal Namdar, owner of Namdar Realty group, said he planned to fill the shopping center with new stores and attract more young shoppers.

But over the last year, the mall has lost several anchors, including Belk, JC Penny and Big Lots.

At the end of July, according to the auction website, the mall was at roughly 63 percent occupancy. That was before JC Penney and Belk left.

Namdar did not return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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