Less than six months after it closed for good, Bradenton’s DeSoto Square Mall is set to be auctioned off, yet again.
The 48-year-old shopping center, which officially ceased operations on April 30, will be up for grabs at a bankruptcy sale scheduled for Oct. 11-13.
For sale is the 57.86-acre site, including the 569,675-square-foot mall structure, and operating tenants Firestone Complete Auto Care and Hudson’s Furniture. It does not include the separately owned former Sears building that has been converted into a Go Store It self storage facility.
Interested parties can enter with a starting bid of $1 million.
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The auction is part of a bankruptcy process that started last September, when ownership group DeSoto Owners LLC filed for bankruptcy to delay a scheduled foreclosure sale. But ultimately, the group wasn’t able to hold onto the site.
“They filed for bankruptcy last year, they tried to reorganize by developing the property, but at the end of the day they couldn’t get enough financial commitments in time to be able to do the development themselves,” Isaac Nutovic, attorney for DeSoto Owners LLC, said. “So instead, we proceeded with the bankruptcy auction process.”
DeSoto Owners LLC is registered to Meyer Lebovits of Brooklyn, New York.
The sale is being handled by real estate firm CBRE. Joseph Thavis, an associate with CBRE in Tampa, said that it won’t necessarily go to the highest bidder – it’ll go to whoever is deemed as most qualified to redevelop the site. It’s primarily being marketed to developers specializing in multifamily projects, he said.
DeSoto Owners LLC originally purchased the mall in 2017 for $25.5 million. In 2018, its mortgage lender, Romspen US Master Mortgage LP, filed an action to foreclose against the mall ownership, alleging it owed more than $21 million on its $22.85 million mortgage note.
Romspen and DeSoto Owners LLC came to a repayment agreement in January 2020, but DeSoto failed to uphold its end of the bargain, citing funding agreements that fell apart because of COVID-19.
The mall closed in April 2021, although anchor tenant Hudson’s Furniture is still operating.
This isn’t the first time DeSoto Square Mall has been up for auction. Previous owner Mason Asset Management put it up for auction in 2014 but ultimately rejected the highest bid of $33.75 million.
Even as the property goes up for sale, however, a representative for the current ownership group who did not want to be identified by name said not to count DeSoto Owners LLC out.
“I would never underestimate this owner, he’s very tenacious,” the representative said.
Even if DeSoto Owners LLC does bid, however, it will have some hefty competition.
Thavis said there’s been interest from all across the U.S. and even some international buyers. As of now, the price is trending upwards of the $25.5 million paid in the previous sale, he said.
“Bradenton is really hot right now. The pandemic fueled interest in the Bradenton market, and a lot of developers have been going more aggressive,” Thavis said.
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