CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin announced on MetroNews affiliate 580-WCHS in Charleston Monday morning that a Georgia-based real estate group is buying the Charleston Town Center Mall.
Appearing on 580-LIVE with Goodwin, Jim Hull, the Owner and Managing Principal of the Hull Property Group expressed excitement with the move from his group to come to the capital city.
“We are so excited about joining the Charleston community. That will entail us having our first property in West Virginia. We think there is so much to be accomplished and it’s going to be a fun ride,” Hull said to Goodwin and 580-LIVE host Dave Allen.
The Hull Property Group will now own 33 malls in 16 states including Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Texas.
The group began in 1977 under Hull and is based in Augusta, Georgia. Hull said in the interview that his company “is in the mall business and has hardly ever sold a mall once purchased.”
He said he wants the mall to be part of a successful downtown Charleston.
“We look forward to meeting other property owners downtown. Using their wisdom, having a collaboration with them on how do we orchestrate a successful downtown. We want to be a part of it.”
— Jeff Jenkins (@JeffJenkinsMN) May 10, 2021
The mall, which had been for sale for several months, has struggled over the past few years losing anchor stores of Macy’s and Sears. It has one anchor store left in JCPenney. Other stories closing recently include Chico’s, Talbots, Victoria’s Secret, Sephora, several restaurants in food court, Shipwreck Collection Market, and Christopher and Banks.
U.S. Bank Association bought the mall during a January 2019 public auction. The former owners defaulted on a $93 million loan in late 2017, and the banking group filed a lawsuit to put the mall into receivership.
NEW from The Voice of Charleston: Episode 284: 05.10.21 – 580 Live with Dave Allen
CHARLESTON TOWN CENTER MALL BUYER AND PLAN REVEALED Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin and Ric Cavender from Charleston Main Street on this morning’s 580 Live from the P… https://t.co/Iq09FYENtg
— 104.5 FM | 96.5 FM | 580 AM WCHS (@580WCHS) May 10, 2021
Hull couldn’t make any predictions about what to do inside the mall because he said real estate is demand-driven.
“The time to sell is when you have a buyer. What we have to do is figure out what makes sense. That’s not something I can come up with, we have to figure it out,” he said.
“All real estate is unique, Charleston Town Center is uniquely located.”
He gave an example of bifurcating a property with a mall his group purchased in Kingston, New York. He said there was visual separation between a $30 million health center on the property and the retail, which attracted a 180,000 square foot big box user.
Hull said he wanted to come back on 580-WCHS in three months to give an update once the group gets to work in Charleston.
“We have an opportunity to display, show and offer good to all of West Virginia. That’s a key opportunity that hasn’t been taken advantage of. It’s really to everybody’s benefit,” Hull said.
Goodwin said this announcement marks another hurdle cleared by the city on a downtown property, the first one being Appalachian Power Park. In February, the city announced the West Virginia Power’s return in a new league.
“The ballpark and the mall, those were two things we set our sights on. I’m just thrilled that we have forward movement in both of those big entities in the city of Charleston,” Goodwin said.
A formal announcement from the city and real estate group is expected later on Monday.