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Southgate Mall under new ownership
In a new chapter in its life, Southgate Mall will go into 2013 under new ownership. In a sale that closed Friday afternoon, the mall was purchased by Southgate Mall LLC, confirmed spokesman Gordon Keig.
The entity is an affiliate of CCA Acquisitions Company and Kornwasser Shopping Center Properties, which develop and own shopping centers in Arizona, California, Utah, Washington, New Mexico and Montana.
Keig, who is based in Phoenix, said he's been looking at Southgate Mall for quite a while and made an initial offer in early May. The company completed the purchase of the mall this month from MidFirst Bank for $4.1 million. Tom Pancrazi of A.T. Pancrazi Real Estate in Yuma and CB Richard Ellis in Phoenix assisted with the purchase.
The sale does not include Sears, which owns its space, or Goodwill and the former bank building at the corner of the property, both which have other owners.
This is not the first foray into Yuma's commercial market by Kornwasser, Keig said. The company developed Yuma Plaza, the strip center at the southwest corner of 16th Street and Pacific Avenue where Starbucks is located, among other businesses. Kornwasser also developed the buildings at Yuma Palms Regional Center now occupied by Chipotle and Verizon.
Keig acknowledged that there are some challenges with Southgate Mall. Currently the 208,976-square-foot aging mall has several vacancies, including the former Dillard's space.
While saying it was too early to go into detail on future plans for the mall, Keig said the new ownership has “lots of ideas. Now that we own the property, we'll be able to start moving forward.”
He added: “We see this as a great opportunity. I do think we've found a diamond in the rough. And I'm thrilled to have another property in Yuma.”
The city has been trying to attract a company to invest in the Southgate Mall area for several years, said City Administrator Greg Wilkinson.
“For the last several months, we have been working cooperatively with Kornwasser to put together the basics of a redevelopment agreement to bring that to fruition,” he said. “We believe Kornwasser's investment in Yuma is a big step and key to revitalizing the ‘Big Curve.' We look forward to working with them over the next few months to finalize the agreement and to working with them in the future.”
Southgate Mall was built in 1973 adjacent to the Sears store that opened in 1968. Since then, the mall has gone through a series of owners, according to Yuma Sun archives.
At one point, it was owned by Downey Savings and Loan Association, which sold the property in 1979 to a group of investors that included Eddie and Shirley Loo. They in turn sold it to Southgate Mall Enterprises in 1982. The property was acquired two years later through foreclosure by Home Federal Savings and Loan Association.
The next year, the property was sold to Yuma Mall Associates, a joint investment venture. By the fall of 1986, several new businesses had moved in while others expanded and the mall was a busy venue for community activity.
Melvin Simon & Associates took ownership in 1988 after outbidding Phoenix developer Wally Chester. Simon promised to expand Southgate Mall with plans that would include a multiplex movie theater. The expansion and theater never happened, but Simon did do a facelift and brought in Dillard's as a major tenant.
And Chester went on to head up the development in 2004 of Yuma Palms Regional Center across town. The new center drew two of Southgate Mall's major tenants, Dillard's and JC Penney, as well as some of the smaller shops — and much of Yuma's retail traffic.
In 2005, Hispanic Retail Group Yuma THS, an affiliate of Forest City Commercial Development, purchased the property. At the time, company officials were quoted saying the company had “strong resources” and was “very committed to the property for the long term.”
Five years later, MidFirst Bank acquired the title through a deed in lieu of foreclosure.