Fashion Square Mall goes up for sale Monday. Here’s how the auction may play out

Written by IhebQld

SAGINAW TOWNSHIP, MI — If an investor wins the online auction to buy Fashion Square Mall, the public may not learn about the indoor shopping center’s fate until late September.

The online auction for the Saginaw Township-based property — which remains open for business — will start at noon Monday, Aug. 22, according to officials managing the event.

While the auction is scheduled to end Wednesday, Aug. 24, officials representing the mall’s current owners said the resulting transaction could close as much as 30 days later. An auction winner must sign a purchase and sale agreement by Thursday, Aug. 25. The legal transactions necessary to close such a deal must conclude by Friday, Sept. 23.

Investors interested in entering the auction bidding must offer at least $2.3 million.

If the auction ends with no qualifying bids or the auction winner fails to close the sale, the mall’s owner — Wells Fargo — will continue to operate the shopping center, officials said.

Southfield-based real estate firm NAI Farbman will serve as one of the online auction’s managers, along with Ten-X, an Irvine, California-based real estate firm.

The mall’s previous owner — Great Neck, New York-based Namdar Realty Group — in 2020 defaulted on $34.8 million in mortgage debt owed to Wells Fargo, setting up the lending giant to grab the property last year as part of a foreclosure auction.

Officials with NAI Farbman last year said the company expected to put the property up for auction in 2022 on behalf of Wells Fargo. Now that auction date is approaching.

If an investor acquires the shopping center for the auction entry-level bid of $2.3 million, it will represent a substantially cheaper purchase than previous acquisitions of Fashion Square Mall.

In January 2001, Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates Property Inc. purchased the complex along with 20 other regional malls and two shopping centers from the mall’s original developer — Cleveland-based Richard E. Jacobs Group Inc. — for $1.2 billion.

The mall was sold again in July 2016 to Namdar Realty Group — along with The Lakes in Muskegon — for an aggregate price of $66.5 million, including the assumption of a $38.2 million loan secured by Fashion Square Mall.

Not all of the 529,944-square-foot mall is available in the sale this time around.

While most of the shops at the 100-unit mall are tenants, Macy’s owns its own box there.

Sears also owned its own box at the northernmost corner of the facility, although the store closed in 2019. Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based Transformco — which now owns Sears and its former space in the mall — hired Stokas Bieri Real Estate to sell the old Sears unit. The property remains up for sale.

Fashion Square Mall opened Oct. 4, 1972, when shoppers first stepped through the doors of the facility built on 71 acres of farmland.

At the time, anchor tenants JCPenney and Sears were the site’s main attractions. Other inaugural retailers included Town & Country Fashions, William C. Wiechmann Co., Bintz Sports, Carter Shop, Seitner’s, Alfano’s Stride Rite, and Tait’s Hobby Shop.

Fashion Square Mall swelled with customers during the mall boom that helped define American culture in the 1970s and ‘80s. In turn, the shopping center fed a hungry commercial district in Saginaw Township, attracting business growth down Bay and Tittabawassee roads during those early decades.

In 1993, a new food court was added, keeping customers fed during long sessions spent browsing stores.

Eight years later, the facility underwent a $10 million facelift that applied a 21st century sheen to its 1970s-built body.

Foot traffic thinned in recent decades, though, both as a result of the region’s shrinking populace as well as consumer buying habits shifting toward online stores.

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