The Charleston region's largest shopping center could soon have a new owner.

Citadel Mall is "under contract" to be sold, according to the website for Maryland-based CW Capital, an asset management company. It was previously listed "For Sale."

Citadel Mall

Citadel Mall opened in 1981 in West Ashley as the Charleston area's largest shopping center. The interior section between the five anchor stores is under contract for sale. The five anchors - Belk, Dillard's, J.C. Penney, Sears and Target - own their buildings and are not part of a pending sale. File/Staff

A spokesman for CW Capital said it is the company's policy not to comment on its pending property sales. The proposed buyer has not been disclosed.

The 1.1 million-square-foot retail destination, the centerpiece of West Ashley's shopping options, faced foreclosure in 2013 when the former owner, CBL & Associates Properties of Tennessee, began missing monthly mortgage payments on the balance of a $75 million loan it took out in 2007.

About 25 percent of the mall remained shuttered for several years following the last recession, cutting into tenant proceeds.

The missed payments resulted in U.S. Bank National Association claiming the owner defaulted on the 10-year loan. It then sued to foreclose on the property. In the interim, a judge appointed New York-based Spinoso Real Estate Group as a receiver to manage the mall. It still oversees the property near Interstate 526 and Sam Rittenberg Boulevard.

Citadel Mall Manager Darcy Steinbrecher said Friday she "cannot comment at this time" about the pending sale.

The property is currently owned by 2070 Sam Rittenberg Boulevard Holdings LLC of Charlotte. The mall, excluding the five anchor stores, sold in 2014 for $65 million, according to Charleston County property records.

Anchor stores Belk, Dillard's, J.C. Penney, Sears and Target own their buildings and property footprints individually and are not part of the proposed sale. They account for nearly 72 percent of the mall's total square footage.

With the economy's bounce back from the Great Recession, broker NGKF Capital Markets is now marketing the remaining U-shaped site around J.C. Penney - from the Food Court to Planet Fitness - as 81 percent occupied.

The mall portion on the market stands at 290,620 square feet, including an outparcel where Aspen Dental recently opened.

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A representative of NGKF did not immediately respond for comment Friday about the mall's pending sale.

In its marketing, the asset manager touts new long-term leases within the past six months with athletics merchant Hibbett Sports and apparel retailers Citi Trends and Rue21 as examples of renewed interest in the shopping center. Together, they represent about 11 percent of the property up for sale.

The mall currently has about 55,000 square feet, or 19 percent, of unleased space, according to NGKF.

"Citadel Mall's current vacancy can provide a new owner with significant upside opportunities," the asset manager said in its marketing for the site. It lends "potential to add significant revenue to the net operating income."

The mall serves 290,000 people within a 10-mile radius, and the population is expected to grow 1.6 percent per year during the next five years, according to NGKF.

If the 36-year-old mall is sold, a new owner could inject new life into the shopping center, a move that will play into Mayor John Tecklenburg's efforts to revitalize the suburb that has struggled to modernize its image.

“Citadel Mall is a very important property at the heart of West Ashley," said Jacob Lindsey, the city's planning director. "We look forward to working with the future owners of the mall and our West Ashley revitalization partners on next steps for this vital area.”

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524 or