Owner says buyer for Regency Mall is possible

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Regency Mall could be on the verge of changing hands.

Regency Mall's last anchor tenant, Montgomery Ward, closed in 2001.  File/Staff
File/Staff
Regency Mall's last anchor tenant, Montgomery Ward, closed in 2001.

Marx Axler, property manager for the building's New York-based owner, Cardinal Entities, says a potential buyer from Atlanta who backed out last year when the real estate market tanked seems to be interested again. He said two other parties have also looked at the site this week.

They have different ideas on what they want to do with the shopping mall, which has been dormant since its last anchor tenant, Montgomery Ward, left in 2001. Mr. Axler said the Atlanta buyer -- whom he declined to identify -- wants to rejuvenate it by expanding on the existing building. The sale price in that deal, he said, would be $52.5 million, financed by Cardinal.

City Commissioner Jimmy Smith said he's skeptical.

"It's preposterous to think that he could get $52 million for it," he said. "It just seems to me like he's putting us off over and over and over."

The value of the mall has been a source of contention lately as the city has grappled with the eyesore, which south Augusta commissioners blame for stifling development on their side of town. Earlier this year, south Augusta commissioners wanted to set aside $8 million from the next round of special-purpose sales tax collections to buy and demolish Regency.

But Mr. Axler said the company wouldn't take less than $50 million, even though it successfully protested last year when the Tax Assessor's office raised the value from $4.2 million to $5.7 million. The SPLOST allocation, approved by voters in June, became $3.5 million for creating a 13-acre lake north of the mall and beautifying the area around it, a strategy for motivating Cardinal to do something with the property.

This year, the assessor's office raised the value to $16 million, which would have almost quadrupled the taxes from $51,223 last year to $193,543 this year.

Cardinal appealed.

On Sept. 16, Mr. Axler told the Board of Equalization it was "ludicrous" to place such a high value on a nonoperating mall.

Appraiser Karen Cash told the board she arrived at the higher value by taking Cardinal's 2007 purchase of the 10-acre Montgomery Ward parcel for $2.3 million and applying that value to the entire 72 acres. Mr. Axler said the company only bought that piece so it could own the entire mall and hopefully see it redeveloped all at once.

Citing a "lack of equity," the board lowered the value back to $4.2 million.

Mr. Smith said he had hoped higher taxes would prompt Cardinal to either sell the mall or redevelop it.

"I feel like it certainly should have stood like they had raised it," he said. "We really need that corner cleaned up, and something getting done there."

F.A. Johnson, the city's consultant on the Regency site, said he's also doubtful about a pending sale. He said he wasn't surprised that the Board of Equalization lowered the value.

"There's no value on that mall," he said.

In 2007, the city used a $75,000 federal grant to hire Columbia-based F.A. Johnson Consulting Group to devise a mixed-use, mixed-income plan. With the lake in the mix, Mr. Johnson is working on a $50,000 demographic and market analysis of the mall and its adjacent undeveloped land, determining what should be built there and how it can be financed.

The purpose, he said, is to get the attention of the mall's owner, whoever it might be.

City Administrator Fred Russell said the city is putting documents together to get approval from the Army Corps of Engineers to create a lake out of Rocky Creek.

The next SPLOST collections will start in late 2010, and if the Corps of Engineers approves, Mr. Russell said he expects work on the lake to start sometime in 2011.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (42) Add comment
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justus4
97
Points
justus4 09/24/09 - 03:46 am
0
0
The "owner says.." something
Unpublished

The "owner says.." something and the story is printed. Why not see what a "buyer" might be saying. Of course the owner will probably say almost anything, but it shouldn't be printed. In fact, most of the folks with knowledge seem to not believe the owners. Time will tell...

brianw
1
Points
brianw 09/24/09 - 04:37 am
0
0
justus4...for once I agree

justus4...for once I agree with you.

concernednative
28
Points
concernednative 09/24/09 - 06:32 am
0
0
over 50 million for that

over 50 million for that building. That means with repairs and development it is over a 100 million dollar investment. How long would it take to make a ROI at that number. This guy is out to lunch with the 50 million dollar number.

ColCo
544
Points
ColCo 09/24/09 - 06:40 am
0
0
Inspect and condemn.

Inspect and condemn.

Bored in GA
2
Points
Bored in GA 09/24/09 - 06:58 am
0
0
Whatever is done with this

Whatever is done with this property, something needs to happen..County was worried about an X-mart being at the door to our city..now clean up the other "dirty" places in the county!! And no I don't and do not support X-Mart...

disssman
6
Points
disssman 09/24/09 - 07:25 am
0
0
Just who are these people on

Just who are these people on the "Board of equalization" and do they even live in Richmond County? In fact who is on all these unelected boards controlling our city through their decisions?

UncleBill
6
Points
UncleBill 09/24/09 - 07:31 am
0
0
Condemn it, tear it down,

Condemn it, tear it down, make a park or plant trees.

lifelongresidient
0
Points
lifelongresidient 09/24/09 - 07:54 am
0
0
here we go again, follow the

here we go again, follow the logic of fred "why me worry" russell...regency mail for at least the last 5-10 years has been an eyesore, with the deterioration of the neighborhood around it he "great idea" is to BUILD A LAKE?!?!?!?..so i guess the thinking of him and the 10 "geniuses" on the commission is the old "if you build it they will come" mentality...i guess the lake will draw the thugs who will in turn set up auto detail shops, barber shops and car wahses which in turn will draw someone who will catch fish out of the lake and in turn sell fish sandwiches to people who will stop by to have their cars washed and detailed and their hair cut....you would think with the 3-4 million that will be spent to build "lake regency" the money could be used more efficently to hire and/or increase the police salaries. with more police the city would then be able to put a sizeable force in the area to clean it up and help remove or erase the stigma that is attached to that area....but i guess that sounds too much like common sense and a greater benefit to the taxpayers/citizenry with no opportunity for an individual or a select few to benefit financially

rufus
2
Points
rufus 09/24/09 - 08:16 am
0
0
The owner wants to have it

The owner wants to have it both ways. Either tax it at the 50M he says it's worth or buy it for the 4.5M he says is the tax value

TrueVoice
22
Points
TrueVoice 09/24/09 - 08:35 am
0
0
The owner has a right to do

The owner has a right to do as he pleases with the property. Don't blame him. Blame the city for not stepping in and beefing up security and steering some cash into revitalizing it before it tanked. We dumped millions into the Laney Walker area and let a tax paying opportunity go to waste.

beachbum1776
2
Points
beachbum1776 09/24/09 - 08:41 am
0
0
It doesn't matter what you

It doesn't matter what you build or rebuild on that site, because the element of theives and gangstas who destroyed regency mall will destroy whatever else is put there. They don't build----they destroy! It's easier to drag the world down to their level, than build thenselves up! Augusta Mall is next!

dani
12
Points
dani 09/24/09 - 08:46 am
0
0
Open a new mall. Then most

Open a new mall. Then most crime could be committed in one location rather than scattered around the county. If that doesn't work, raze it and let it go back to the forest it once was.

andywarhol
0
Points
andywarhol 09/24/09 - 08:51 am
0
0
That's right beach bum. A

That's right beach bum. A couple looking for a nice walk on at our river front has to do so during the busiest time of day for fear of being assaulted. This location would be worse. I don't even have to imagine that this would be a place families wouldn't want to frequent.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 09/24/09 - 08:56 am
0
0
If Regency is reopened put

If Regency is reopened put alot of security inside and outside just like Augusta Mall and run the bad apples out.

Knightryder
0
Points
Knightryder 09/24/09 - 09:06 am
0
0
Instead of a lake let's

Instead of a lake let's bulldoze the whole thing and build a NASCAR racing facility on the property. If you build a lake the county and owners will all get sued when some drunk moron or a child who is not being supervised by their parents drowns in the lake.

ispy4u
0
Points
ispy4u 09/24/09 - 09:22 am
0
0
BEACHBUM, that Augusta mall

BEACHBUM, that Augusta mall is dying song has been playing for the last ten years. They have expanded, just opened a Apple store and Forever 21 is coming. Yeah, seems like they are on life support.

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 09/24/09 - 09:32 am
0
0
That place needs to be bombed

That place needs to be bombed and buried.

strugglingcollegestudent
0
Points
strugglingcollegestudent 09/24/09 - 10:04 am
0
0
turn it into an institutional

turn it into an institutional correctional facility- A PRISON!!! it'll create jobs, and relieve other prison overcrowding, as well as possibly deter any other crime happening around that area. Gah! I'm a genius!

JM88
15
Points
JM88 09/24/09 - 10:15 am
0
0
The buildings at Regency are

The buildings at Regency are all still structurally sound. The interior would obviously need major renovations, but I think there's still potential to restore the area. A prison, like the above poster mentioned, wouldn't be a bad idea, or something along those lines. I just hope they do something, because Regency gets creepier and creepier with each passing day as it just sits there and rots.

draksig
167
Points
draksig 09/24/09 - 10:26 am
0
0
If the city or county

If the city or county condemed the property and bought it, they would then fight for ten year about what to do with the property. Personally, I'd like to see a drive in theator complex built there but I doubt it would be profitable.

Riverman1
78435
Points
Riverman1 09/24/09 - 10:28 am
0
0
There is no way Regency Mall

There is no way Regency Mall will reopen as a mall. No new enclosed malls have been built since 2006 in the U.S. The U.S. has 6 times the retail property per square foot, per capita than Europe. But dead malls do provide opportunities for the community to do things right. No mall should sit abandoned for years as Regency has. American consumption is decreasing and the mall concept is dead. It is better to use the space as a park or for educational training of all types. The one possibility that has worked with a couple of dead malls is turning them into international, mainly Spanish type shopping centers.

getalife
4
Points
getalife 09/24/09 - 10:28 am
0
0
I just don't understand the

I just don't understand the "Regency Lake" idea. What will that do to help that area?? Sometimes I think the people that come up with these ideas are just scrambling for anything?? How much taxpayer money was spent for this great idea??

Little Lamb
43552
Points
Little Lamb 09/24/09 - 11:22 am
0
0
Interesting how JM88 says

Interesting how JM88 says that Regency Mall is rotting, but is structurally sound. Contradictory?

Brad Owens
4097
Points
Brad Owens 09/24/09 - 11:30 am
0
0
How come this bozo gets to

How come this bozo gets to have his tax appraisal at 4.5mil while he boasts of getting 50mil for it? Johnny needs to press this issue. Where is Steve Kendricks in all this? He is on the DDA and the Taxman, he should chime in.

EZ4U2C
0
Points
EZ4U2C 09/24/09 - 11:30 am
0
0
Struggling college

Struggling college student:
Your education is not going to waste! That is a BRILLIANT idea!!!!!
Good Job

EZ4U2C
0
Points
EZ4U2C 09/24/09 - 11:35 am
0
0
JM88, The building is NOT

JM88,
The building is NOT strucurally sound!!! I worked there when I was in college and the people delivering soda's and stuff could not bring a large amount because the floor would give on the second floor by Monkey Wards. That was a couple of years after they opened!!!!

TEAR IT DOWN!!!!!

tinkerbaby24
0
Points
tinkerbaby24 09/24/09 - 11:46 am
0
0
I Heard A Long Time Ago When

I Heard A Long Time Ago When Everything Started going Out Of Business In It That The Mall Was Sinking Not Sure How True It Is But.. I dont Think We Need Another Lake especially Right Their In the Middle Of Everything Not A Very Ideal Place.True The Neighborhood Isnt All That great Around The Regency Mall But Hey Theres Crimes All Around Augusta Its Nothing New!! I would Like To See A Shopping Center Like In martinez Such As A Target,Oldnavy,Michaels, Petsmart Something Like That For Everyone On This Side That Hates Drivng All The Way Across Town To Shop At These Places!

bthompson86
0
Points
bthompson86 09/24/09 - 12:09 pm
0
0
Yes bury the place. That

Yes bury the place. That part of town is doomed!

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 09/24/09 - 12:15 pm
0
0
The trashy element living

The trashy element living around it that closed the mall to start with will do the same to any places reopened. That area has only gotten worse. We had to let go of work we did around there for years when it became 90% section 8 and 100% to dangerous for our workers. Not to mention we moved even way before that because of the crime. That is probably why they are thinking of doing something other than a shopping area.

Don Rico
0
Points
Don Rico 09/24/09 - 12:31 pm
0
0
Hey Tinkerbaby24... I totally

Hey Tinkerbaby24... I totally understand you comment about wanting something at the old regency mall area like in Martinez or Evans. But due to the location, it will just be another place for thugs and drug dealers to use. Unless the county commissioners and the folks who live around that area stand up for themselves and do something, it will never be safe. That’s why you and others will continue to drive to Martinez and other locations to do your shopping.

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