AUBURN — The Auburn Mall is up for sale.
And for $32 million, it can be yours.
Local developer George Schott bought the 34-acre, 300,000-square-foot mall from Equity Property and Development, the mall's original developer, in 2005. On Monday, after five years and millions of dollars worth of renovation and development, Schott announced he was putting the property up for sale.
Although Schott declined Monday to say how much he paid for the property, a Sun Journal story from 2005 put the purchase price at $14.5 million. Schott is asking $32 million for it.
"I don't know if it'll sell quickly or if it'll take a while, but based on (property) income, it should do OK," he said.
The Auburn Mall was built in 1979 by Equity Property and Development. It was one of the first enclosed malls in Maine, and it thrived as a retail center for decades until the 1990s, when a recession started to drain the mall of tenants. By 2005, the occupancy rate was about 60 percent, according to Schott and Craig Young of The Boulos Co., the property's broker.
Since he bought the mall, Schott has spent millions on renovations and repairs, including roof work. He refurbished the 60,000-square-foot space left vacant after the 2002 closure of the Porteous department store and moved the Steve & Barry's clothing store into the space soon after. It was left vacant again when Steve & Barry's went bankrupt in 2008.
TD Bank recently refurbished the space and moved in a call center. With that call center, the mall's occupancy rate now stands at 85 percent. The mall will also soon add a Goodwill retail center and a Town Fair Tire in a corner of its parking lot on the Turner Street side.
According to Young, the Auburn Mall remains one of only three enclosed malls in Maine.
The mall officially went up for sale last week and so far, Young said, "The initial response has been strong." Both he and Schott believe the mall will be attractive to a investor who wants a commercial property with a good occupancy rate now and potential for the future.
"If the time is right to sell stuff, that's when you want to sell it," Schott said.
The Auburn Mall is part of an existing Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, deal. Any tax benefits stay with the property and transfer to the new owner.
The Auburn Mall is the largest of Schott's properties, but it isn't his only retail center in the Twin Cities. Schott also owns the Mount Auburn Plaza, is part owner of the Kohl's Plaza in Auburn and is owner of several commercial buildings in Lewiston. He is also part owner of the Auburn Residence Inn by Marriott.