ELYRIA — An online auction Wednesday for Midway Mall has produced an unknown buyer for the commercial property.
So far, there’s no word on who dished out millions of dollars on the shopping center.
Shortly after the auction ended at noon local time, a final bid price for the property showed a price of $4.25 million. The listing had no mention or even any possible clues to the new owners.
By Wednesday afternoon, the few details available about the sale were removed from the online listing with a notice about the next step in the process.
“This property is in escrow,” the listing said. “Once escrow has been closed, the auction details will be made available upon request.”
County Auditor Craig Snodgrass said it will be up to the auctioneer to determine the next steps with the property. His office won’t know more until the filing of the property transfer.
“It’s going to be on their timeline, not ours,” he said.
Mayor Holly Brinda said she watched the auction with a mix of emotions — excitement, anxiousness and nervousness, she said.
But an announcement about who bought the property, which has been the subject of much debate from residents and elected officials, likely will not come immediately, she said.
“The winning bidder will have to be vetted further before they make any official announcement, so I don’t think we are going to know immediately,” she said. “I think I know who most of the bidders were, but I can’t be sure. In all, I met personally with four potential developers.”
Once the winning bidder has been fully vetted and processed, Brinda said she will be notified.
“I hope it is before the end of the week,” she said. “Once we know, I am sure the ‘winner’ will call me to discuss moving forward. Whoever wins this will need the city’s help with next steps: refining the plan — most have said they want public input, working with some of the outlying businesses not under the agreement, rezoning, demolition, tax incentives and financing.”
The listing, which included seven different parcels as one bid package, described Midway Mall and the adjacent area as a “an excellent opportunity” for someone looking “to acquire a well-located regional asset with significant redevelopment potential well-below replacement cost.”
The listing, which was for 585,606 square feet of space, included J.C. Penney, which is an occupied anchor of the mall, and a retail strip center that includes Staples and several freestanding retail buildings including Aspen Dental and the Atlas Cinemas theater. Other major mall tenants include Best Buy and Dunham’s Sporting Goods.
The building that houses Sears, which is in the process of closing, and the building that formerly housed Dillard’s are not part of this transaction.
According to the listing, the property for sale is 80.5 percent leased and the overall development is 65.4 percent leased.
The starting bid of $1.2 million and the final ending price were significantly lower than what the county says the property is worth. According the Lorain County auditor’s website, the property is valued at just more than $12.5 million.
While Elyria residents await more news, many are already hoping the sale is a sign of progress. And the redevelopment ideas run the gamut.
One reader in an email, Vincent Saccardi, said the area would be a great location for an auto racing track.
“Seems like an accessible location to get to — 20 minutes from the airport — and good demographic that might be interested in auto-racing, he wrote. “On the ‘infield,’ they could build a sports complex. This could add to the northeast Ohio experience on a national level.”
The topic also has generated considerable online comments.
“I’m excited to see what happens here,” Kristin Carmen-Collins said on a posting about the sale on The Chronicle-Telegram’s Facebook page. “Hopefully it revitalizes the area and brings in some jobs and revenue.”
Ed Smith said the area would be great for a mini convention center.
“That’d be a good draw to support the retailers in there,” he said. “There are plenty of hotels in the area.”
While ideas of what stores everyone would like to see come to the property likely will continue until a formal announcement is made, it’s worth reviewing what one plan says could be a feasible redevelopment option.
Jeff Green Partners and the Hoffman Strategy Group, commissioned by the city for $50,000 to study the area, believe the mall is well-suited to shrink and change to a mixed-used development with shopping, office space, hotels, entertainment and residential homes.
Crocker Park, Green said, is probably this region’s best example of a successful mixed-used retail and commercial complex. While he stopped short of saying Midway Mall has to become the next Crocker Park to survive, he did say that taking notes from its development could bode well for the mall.
Brinda said the city will use the development plan as a tool to make decisions on how it may be able to help the new owners redevelop the mall using public financing.
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