The Aiken County Master-in-Equity office confirmed Friday that the U.S. Bank National Association had withdrawn the 35-acre property from auction without offering the department an explanation. According to department staff, foreclosed properties are frequently pulled before an auction and might or might not be re-advertised for sale.
Attorney Shelton Sterling Laney III, who represents the mall’s owners, said the auction was called off but refused to comment further on the issue.
A message left Friday for the bank’s attorney, S. Nelson Weston Jr., was not immediately returned.
U.S. Bank filed a notice in April claiming that Aiken Mall Acquisition LLC was in default of about $28.5 million, including interest, according to documents at the Aiken County Clerk of Court’s office.
The bidding process was set to begin at 11 a.m. at the county courthouse.
News of the 400,000- square-foot mall’s foreclosure has led shoppers to contact mall management with questions about its
future, said Pam Hyatt, the mall’s assistant property manager.
“A lot of people are calling and asking is the mall closed or is it closing, because that’s all they see,” she said. “It would never shut down.”
The mall on Whiskey Road has been open for nearly 25 years and does have “a lot of vacancies right now,” Hyatt said. She estimated the mall is less than half vacant, with department stores including Belk and JC Penney blending with smaller stores and empty space.
“This is a chance for an investor to start with a clean slate and invest new into the property. Revamp it. Breathe new life into it. Whatever it takes,” Hyatt said.
Aiken resident Dorie Galloza started shopping at the mall not long after it opened and said she mostly goes there now to shop at Belk and Dillard’s. She said that if mall ownership does change hands, she hopes a new owner would bring a more new shopping options.
“They need stores,” Galloza said before entering Red Lobster across from the mall. “That’s why everybody goes to Augusta – because they don’t have enough stores.”