The mall is currently owned by JPMC 2006-CIBC15 Lightstone Portfolio LLC.
“I believe it’s a collection of banks, maybe four or five banks that are involved,” Dolan said. “We answer to a group out of Dallas called C-III Asset Management, and they are the asset manager for the bank.”
“They have us listed with a broker, (NAI Brannen Goddard Retail Investment Property Group), back in July or August maybe, so they’re actively trying to sell it,” Dolan said.
He said the top assets of the mall include a lot of quality people working at the mall.
“We supply a lot of jobs to the community,” Dolan said. “We have tenants paying rent. The building is an asset; it is in good condition, and the land, the land is valuable. You’re buying all of that.”
A listing on Internet-based Loopnet.com indicated the asking price for the mall was $11.8 million. Its value was set at $8 million by the Floyd County Appraiser’s officer this year, but the ownership group has appealed that.
Floyd County tax records indicate the mall property encompasses some 92.22 acres. That property does not include the developed outparcels, such as the Movies at Berry Square, Toys R Us, Party City/Dollar Tree, Zaxby’s, United Community Bank and another currently vacant building.
Property taxes on the mall totaled $112,534.40 in 2011. The tentative tax bill for 2012 was $112,374.40.
The Crown America Corp. out of Johnstown, Penn., developed the mall. Dolan said he believes Crown America was making a push into a number of secondary markets across the eastern United States.
“They were really trying to establish themselves,” Dolan said.
Proffitt’s, Belk, J.C. Penney and Sears were well-established anchor tenants, but the interior of the mall never did completely build out.
“We don’t get all of the stores because they have certain requirements for income levels and population,” Dolan said. “They may look at this market and say there’s not enough population there. We respond to that by saying hey, ‘We’ve got stores doing X amount of dollars per square foot, and they’re doing great and are happy.’”
Dolan said that so many times, the major chains, whether they are women’s fashions, children’s apparel or whatever, simply won’t deviate from their corporate business model to come into the Rome market.
“There’s a lot (of stores) that they have to have an interstate where their malls are,” said Marketing Director Tricia Dillard.
Carole Hunter, the mall’s specialty leasing manager, has had some success in bringing merchants from other locations across the community into the mall. Pokey’s Hometown Sporting Goods left a site in Armuchee Village, and Initially Twisted left the Village Shopping Center for space in the mall.
Hunter spends at least one day a week scouting the community for businesses that might benefit from a move to Mount Berry Square. She said the diversity of the customer base at Mount Berry Square is one of its strongest selling points. She said the mall ownership group has given her considerable latitude to work out leasing deals that bring new stores to the mall.
“Especially if they have a business, I look at what an increase in traffic could do for them, and then I base my deals on that kind of information,” Hunter said.
In spite of Hunter’s ability to be somewhat flexible with lease deals, the Rock Candy Bar and Blaze Hair Salon both closed a week ago. Abihka women’s fashion accessories and Hallmark have also closed their doors this summer.
Among the anchor tenants, the Proffitt’s space has been empty for several years. Sears, J.C. Penney and Belk have all maintained a strong presence.
“This Belk is doing very well,” Dolan emphasized.
The mall has a blend of major national franchises, including Aeropostale, Victoria’s Secret, Cato’s Fashions, Rue 21, American Eagle Outfitters, Kay Jewelers, Justice, Bath & Body Works, Rack Room Shoes, Christopher & Banks, Great American Cookie Co., Hibbett Sports, GNC, Maurice’s, The Children’s Place, Chick-fil-A and others.
There are also a number of strictly local folks, including Knight’s Jewelers, Pokey’s Hometown Sports, Three Rivers Auction Co., Players, Initially Twisted, Unique Threading Salon, Pal’s Coffee+ Co. and Connect Rome Church.
Dolan said having a church in the mall (inside a former restaurant space) has probably helped the food court a little bit on Sundays.
One of the largest potential assets for the mall is the proposed Tennis Center of Georgia at Berry College. The 80-court tennis center would be developed on land owned by Berry College between the mall and the new Armuchee Connector.
“Personally I think it would be great for the community. It would supply a lot of jobs and would bring in things like hotels,” Dolan said. “Looking at it as the manager of the mall, I think it would be just fantastic because it would bring in a large number of people in between matches. They would shop; they would come over here to eat. It would be a home run for the mall.”
The Tennis Center of Georgia project has languished for three years, with proponents continuing to seek state bond funding to kick start development, however, economic conditions across Georgia have kept lawmakers from dipping into the bond market for any of a number of pet projects across the state.
Development of the tennis center would unquestionably enhance the value of the mall and its attractiveness to future owners.
The mall is working hard to become more involved in the community and, in return, bringing more of the community to the mall. Hunter has signed the Triple Threat Arts Co., a local theater group, to take on a large space near Sears, which would be used for dinner theater productions.
“This dinner theater is just an example of people being able to come find entertainment at the mall. We’re trying to create more of a lifestyle environment rather than only being here as a place to shop,” Dillard said.
Dolan feels confident the dinner theater will bring more people out to the mall and provide for more traffic in that section of the mall.
Traffic is one thing the mall likes to see, particularly as merchants move into the final quarter of the year when many bottom lines change from red to black.