The Bristol Mall in Bristol, Virginia, was sold at auction on Tuesday, according to a Bristol Herald Courier report on the same day. The sale, held on the steps of the Bristol Virginia Courthouse, was well-attended with over 20 people present. There were only two attendees prepared to bid, but only one bid was placed. A representative of a special purpose entity set up by the loan servicer, made the successful bid of $2 million.
The mall’s current ownership was in default, and this third party entity, BACM-2006-5 Bate City Highway LLC, was set up by the creditor to facilitate the foreclosure. WCYB-TV reported that the unknown gentleman who placed the only bid didn’t even know on whose behalf he was actually bidding. He was hired by a firm in Washington, DC.
One of the substitute trustees, Bill Casterline, told the Bristol Herald Courier that the mall may go back on the market, although he did not have access to any details. The buildings and 45.9 acres are actually valued at $14.6 million. The city receives over $180,000 a year in revenue from the taxes on the property located at 500 Gate City Highway.
Local residents were expecting the mall to close, due to losing all the anchor stores but Sears. Belk moved to the new Pinnacle Shopping Center which is basically where people now come to shop from all over the Tri-Cities. That situation will only get worse when the new Falls shopping center opens in Bristol, Virginia. The Cabelas anchor store is set to open in October.
People who were growing up in Bristol in 1976 when the mall was new may have a tear in their eye. The Mall was really a big deal at that time in Bristol. High school students now had both a mall and a skating rink at which to gather on the weekends. Bristol was hopping!
However, the beautiful new mall also sounded a death knell for stores located in Downtown Bristol. Although the Downtown area has since seen a revival in small shops and restaurants, the major stores never returned to State Street. Now, the poor Bristol Mall is the one being scorned as local shoppers can’t get enough of the shiny new kid in town.
Over half the stores are vacant, and only one large anchor store remains. When the old Kingsport Mall on Stone Drive fell into the same situation in the 1980s, it struggled by for a few years with some specialty stores, Montgomery Ward, Hills Department Store and the theaters. Bristol Mall does not have that much to offer, so it doesn’t bode well. What will happen to Bristol Mall?