Sold! Fashion Square Mall’s Dramatic Online Auction Ends With $10.8 Million Bid

SAGINAW TOWNSHIP, MI – Two competing investors engaged in a bidding war in the final minutes of the online auction to buy Fashion Square Mall, with a $10.8 million bid leading the rest, officials said.

Auction representatives said the winning bid would not be considered a final sale until additional documentation is completed within 30 days. Officials said they would keep the identity of the investor secret until then.

Bidding for Fashion Square Mall began at noon on Monday August 22 and was due to end at 11 a.m. on Wednesday August 24.

For much of the event, the highest bid was $6.3 million, the auction website said. But a flurry of activity – 10 deals in total – raised that figure to millions of dollars in the dramatic final 25 minutes.

As of 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, the best offer was $7.3 million. Three more bids took the price to $8.3 million just before the clock struck 11. An offer of $8.8 million – presented with less than 30 seconds remaining – reset the website’s countdown to when no other offers would be accepted. Each new bid after that point reset the countdown to three minutes, extending the event past the 11 a.m. deadline.

There were six bids entered after 11 a.m.

At one point, a $10.6 million bid came in moments after he landed the best offer. With about five seconds remaining on the timer, however, a $10.7 million counter-offer reset the countdown. The next – and final – $10.8 million bid was taken at 11:14 a.m.

The auction ended three minutes later.

Southfield-based real estate company NAI Farbman was one of those responsible for the online auction, along with Ten-X, a real estate company based in Irvine, Calif.

The mall was available for purchase in part because its former owner – New York-based Namdar Realty Group – in 2020 defaulted on $34.8 million in mortgage debt owed to Wells Fargo. The lending giant then foreclosed on the property last year in a foreclosure auction, with plans to sell it at this week’s online auction.

Fashion Square Mall opened on October 4, 1972, when shoppers first walked through the doors of the establishment built on 71 acres of farmland in northern Saginaw Township.

At the time, anchor tenants JCPenney and Sears were the site’s main attractions. Other inaugural retailers included Town & Country Fashions, William C. Wiechmann Co., Bintz Sports, Carter Shop, Seitner’s, Alfano’s Stride Rite, and Tait’s Hobby Shop.

Fashion Square Mall swelled with customers during the mall boom that helped define American culture in the 1970s and 1980s. In turn, the mall fueled a hungry shopping district, drawing business growth to the streets of Bay and Tittabawassee in those early decades.

In 1993, a new food court was added, allowing customers to feed themselves during long sessions spent browsing the stores.

Eight years later, the facility underwent a $10 million facelift that applied a 21st-century shine to its 1970s-built bodywork.

However, foot traffic has declined over the past few decades, both due to the region’s declining population and the shift in consumer shopping habits to online stores.

In January 2001, Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates Property Inc. purchased the complex along with 20 other regional shopping centers and two shopping centers from the mall’s original developer – Cleveland-based Richard E. Jacobs Group Inc. – for 1.2 billion dollars.

The mall was sold in July 2016 to Namdar Realty Group – along with The Lakes in Muskegon – for a total price of $66.5 million, including the assumption of a $38.2 million secured loan by Fashion Square Mall.

The entire 529,944 square foot mall was unavailable at this week’s auction.

While most of the stores in the 100-unit mall are tenants, Macy’s has its own box there.

Sears also had its own box in the northernmost corner of the facility, although the store closed in 2019. Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Transformco, which now owns Sears and its former space in the mall, has hired Stokas Bieri Real Estate to sell the former Sear Unit. This property remains for sale.

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