The Aiken Mall has been sold for $9.8 million, according to the County Master-in-Equity office.
U.S. Bank National Association, which held the mortgage for the mall located off Whiskey Road, purchased the property during the monthly auction held at the Aiken County Courthouse on Tuesday. According to Nicole Garrison-Sprenger of the bank's media relations, the bank is a trustee of that account, and technically doesn't own the property but rather it now belongs to investors of that trust.
The mall was removed several times from the auction over the last few months. The prior owner of the 35 acres on which the mall sits, Aiken Mall Acquisitions LLC, owed approximately $28.5 million, including interest and late fees, to U.S. Bank.
David Penix, a local commercial real estate consultant, was at the auction and said the winning bidder left as soon as the purchase was made. Penix said the bank purchasing the property is not an uncommon practice.
Penix feels this is a good sign for the Aiken Mall.
“This transaction is a big plus because it's a signal for new life to go into the mall,” Penix said.
The Aiken Mall opened in the 1980s, and Penix said the building is still in fairly good shape with a “wealthy” population living nearby, which is a good formula for the mall's success.
Penix said with an active owner that can market and operate the mall, the potential for it to improve is there.
Over the years, many spaces of the mall have become vacant and it has mostly consisted of large chain stores such as JC Penneys and Sears.
Amy Banton is the County reporter with the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010.