BAKERSFIELD,Calif. — The East Hills Mall in Bakersfield has had another setback and will be deserted a bit longer, according to county records.
The property's original owners, Save Mart companies tells 23ABC that East Hills Mall has been reverted back to them due to overdue payments. The buyers of the East Hills Mall in 2016, which are City Lights and Mark Chris investments LLC have officially transferred back the property after defaulting on their loan. The current unpaid debt with interest is allegedly over $7 million.
Despite other reports, Save Mart says the mall was not sold for $10, but instead was reverted back to them. The alternative would have been foreclosure.
Jacqui Kitchen, assistant city manager, for Bakersfield says they were made aware of the exchange via the media. She adds that the city is disappointed that the two companies will not fulfill their previously shared developmental plans for the mall.
“The style they wanted was a traditional style shopping center concept with several large box stores and a few several satellite restaurants pads,” said Kitchen. “Obviously that layout didn’t work, because they had problems leasing out the appropriate number of tenants.”
Kitchen added that the East Hills Mall is a site of opportunity that residents of East Bakersfield would like to see become something great for the community.
“I encourage the new owner to come in with a refreshed vision,” Kitchen said. “Something that is a new, live, work, play concept, mixed use with entertainment, and residential all developed together on that property.”
Officials say the $10 was written as part of a contractual clause in case the loan defaulted. Save Mart released this statement to 23ABC via email saying:
“Save Mart just received the property back earlier this week and we are currently evaluating all of our options with the property."
Justin Leland, a local financial advisor for Moneywise Guys says in his opinion Save Mart has probably made the best financial decision.
“[They] had already owned this property to begin with [and] sold it to this company and they defaulted on a loan,” said Leland. “Rather it go to foreclosure and lose everything including the property we are able to still retain the property itself.”
23ABC contacted Mark Chris investments and City Lights LLC and both said they were unable to speak.