Commissioners vote to delay purchase of mall

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 3, 2013

SALISBURY — On Monday’s mall purchase closing date, county officials delayed the final approval of the Salisbury Mall buy and pushed the new closing date to Dec. 16.
County Manager Gary Page said the county had a “couple of issues” with the mall negotiations and wanted more time to discuss the deal. Page said the issues were financial in nature, but said he couldn’t provide any other specific details about the county’s concerns.
“It could change our decision on the purchase,” Page said of the negotiations.
Page said the county will likely call a special meeting later this month to discuss the mall owner’s response to the issues.
“If we’re able to resolve a couple of the questions, then the deal will go through on the 16th,” Page said.
Page said the board discussed the matter during closed-session Monday evening.
After the meeting, the board voted unanimously to declare its official intent to reimburse the county’s expenditure account for $3.95 million for the mall.
Page said $3.45 million would go to the price of the mall and the other $500,000 would go to prepping for the master plan and allowing the county some funds to start moving departments.
One example, Page said, would be building fences for the county’s transportation department and new Sheriff’s Office lot for impounded vehicles at the mall.
Page said the sheriff currently leases space to store the vehicles.
“If we own the mall and make that fenced in land, that would also include impounded vehicles,” Page said, “it basically kills two birds with one stone.”
Commissioners began their pursuit of the mall in September when the nearly 320,000 square-foot complex was placed on an online auction.
The county entered the auction and bid on the property, but afterward county leaders said they thought they may have been bidding with the owner himself.
The county has since engaged in direct negotiations with the owner and is performing a Phase II environmental study on the property.
Page did not say when a special meeting would be scheduled to discuss the mall negotiations.
The county canceled its last board meeting of the year due to the holidays.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.