Sears

Sears will close in August at Citadel Mall in West Ashley as the Illinois-based retailer continues to shutter underperforming stores. Warren L. Wise/Staff

The owners of the interior of Citadel Mall now own half the real estate at the struggling West Ashley shopping center.

A firm led by James Island-based real estate investor Richard Davis recently paid $7.55 million for the 14.25-acre site where Sears and its adjoining parking area are at the south end of the 1.1-million-square-foot retail destination, according to Charleston County property records.

Illinois-based Sears announced last week it will close the 132,000-square-foot store by August, leaving the Charleston region with none of its big-box shops.

"We feel like the Sears parcel is the last piece of the puzzle we need to implement our master plan," said Davis, the leader of a group of investors which owns the interior of the mall and the former J.C. Penney space.

He called the acquisition the final of a three-step process to eventually transform the shopping center into something more grand and consistent with the West Ashley revitalization plan.

The entire mall site is about 90 acres. With the latest acquisition, Davis and his business partners own about 45 of them at a price of nearly $30 million.

Their master plan for the mall has not been officially unveiled, but they hope to redevelop the site into a sports travel destination, which Davis believes will inject new life into the property.

They plan to announce plans to rework the mall and parking areas around it, probably as early as June, when the Medical University of South Carolina officially launches the makeover of the former J.C. Penney site.

+2 
West Ashley (copy) (copy) (copy)

Citadel Mall is the largest shopping center in the Charleston region. The Sears store (right) will close in August following the departure of J.C. Penney (upper middle) last summer. The owners of the interior of the mall now own the former J.C. Penney site and the Sears site. Dillard's, Belk and Target (lower middle to left) own their properties independently of the rest of the mall. File/Staff

The business partners plan to present a "planned unit development" to the city to outline their future vision for the site.

Davis is eyeing a mix of uses. While he has not disclosed what that entails, it usually means offices, hotels, residences and restaurants. A new name for the mall is in the works as well.

Davis and his group bought the nearly 11-acre former J.C. Penney department store site and its parking area in August for $5.125 million. MUSC is leasing the 126,000-square-foot building. It plans to remake the former retail store into an outpatient center by 2019.

+2 
pc-061517-bz-retailcolumn (copy)

Sears has been a part of Citadel Mall in West Ashley for more than 35 years. The store is closing in August. File/Staff

The firm headed by Davis bought the interior portion of the mall in early 2017 for $17 million. It's comprised of nearly 20 acres, including parking.

The Charleston region's largest mall never fully recovered following the recession 10 years ago. Parts of it still remain without tenants, especially on the end near Sears.

Charleston-based lifestyle apparel retailer Palmetto Moon pulled out last month after 16 years and moved to Tanger Outlets in North Charleston, saying the mall's direction was not consistent with the merchant's strategy.

Each of the remaining anchor stores at Citadel Mall own their space independently of the rest of the shopping center. The other anchors are Belk, Dillard's and Target.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.