Mall sold to debt holder for $100K

March 1st, 2022



MURDOCK — Bond holders owed $44.8 million for the bankrupt Port Charlotte Town Center mall now own most of the facility after they ended up the high bid of $100,100.  The Charlotte County clerk’s office held the online auction Monday for part of the 54-acre property within Murdock Circle.  This action basically gives the debt holders clear title to the property, Charlotte County Economic Development Director Dave Gammon said. Now, he said, they can try to sell it to a new developer, using the county’s 2020 mixed use zoning category. This category allows residential to mix with commercial and allows higher buildings in some circumstances.

“They have great development rights,” Gammon said. “They could do something spectacular.” Gammon said he expects the mall will continue to operate while the bondholders seek out options.  “It will be a mall for awhile,” he said. “Nobody is going to be able to tell today from yesterday.” As a part of bankruptcy and foreclosure, previous owner, Washington Prime Group handed over management of the property to a receiver in Miami hired by Rialto Capital Advisers LLC, which incorporates the bond holders. Economic development staff have spoken to developers who are interested, Gammon said, and the bond holders may have as well. Developers like the mixed-use option the county created, he said.

The mall was built in the 1990s as a conventional indoor mall. It was called Town Center in a county that did not have a commercial center. Times have changed for malls, Gammon said. People shop differently now.  At the Town Center location, the mixed-use zoning would allow up to 200 feet, Gammon said, depending on what the developer offers. Until the mixed-use option, the county’s limit was about 60 feet, he said. The large size of the property gives them taller options, he said.  Not included in the auction were two stores, Beall’s and Dillard’s, as well as the space formerly occupied by Macy’s.  Long-term leases, such as with the Regal Cinema theaters, must be honored, Gammon said.