A Baltimore-based real estate company acquired the troubled Eastpoint Mall last month for $33.4 million, only slightly more than the 68-acre property fetched at auction in 2012.
P. David Bramble, managing partner of buyer MCB Real Estate LLC, said the company hopes its local knowledge will help turn the shopping mall around.
"We're local, we're focused and we're excited about the opportunity," he said. "We think it's an underutilized asset in a really strong market …. With the right plan and capital investment, we think we can turn this into a strong presence."
The Dundalk mall, which is anchored by a Sears and J.C. Penney, sold in 2012 to Florida-based LNR Property LLC at auction for $30.3 million. LNR Property did not return a call for comment.
Prior to that, a unit of New York-based Thor Equities LLC, bought the site in 2006 for $112 million.
Eastpoint, which opened in 1956, was hit by the combination of a bad economy, competition with other nearby malls, a property that looked "worn" and a mix of stores that were "nothing special," said Mark Millman, CEO of Millman Search Group, a real estate consulting and executive search firm, who had Thor Equities as a client.
"They had tremendous competition with first class, well regarded, well run malls that had quality tenants and they just basically let the ball drop," he siad. "There was no special reason to visit."
Bramble said his firm is developing plans for the property, but declined to go into specifics. MCB Real Estate also owns shopping centers such as Arundel Plaza in Glen Burnie.
The roughly 850,000-square-foot mall, located at Eastern Avenue, North Point Boulevard and Interstate-695, has 140 stores. It has a current occupancy rate of about 85 percent, Bramble said.
"It's a unique project and it has a lot of opportunity for someone who can focus on it," he said, adding that his firm has been tracking the property since the auction. "You're not dealing with a dead mall."
Jones Lang LaSalle, which recently changed its name to JLL, has been managing the property, which opened in 1956, with recent renovations in 1991 and 2005, according to a marketing brochure.
The deal between seller LBUBS 2006-C3 7839 MALL LLC and buyer TRP-MCB EASTPOINT LLC closed Feb. 18, according to land records.
Millman said he believes the mall can make a comeback with attention.
"They need to put in some better quality stores (and) rebrand," he said. "You've got to remarket the center and make it a destination point for that community."