MUNCIE, Ind. — The Muncie Mall has been sold to Hull Property Group based in Augusta, Georgia, a retail developer that specializes in turning around distressed retail properties similar to the local mall, Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour announced.
Ridenour said the sale has been in the works about a month and closed Wednesday. The price paid for the enclosed mall was not released.
A press release issued by Hull said the property adds to the its growing retail property portfolio of nearly 20-million square feet, including 35 enclosed shopping malls across 17 states. The company also owns the Richmond Mall in East Central Indiana.
“We are excited to join the Muncie community. We love the area, and the Muncie Mall has wonderful redevelopment potential,” said Jim Hull, owner of Hull Property Group, in the news release. “We aim to reposition the Muncie Mall by working with community leaders and adjacent property owners to create a successful future for the mall and the Muncie community’s critical retail corridor.”
Hull emphasized, “There are no bad properties, just bad ownership, and Job 1 for us is to do the things necessary to improve viability for the existing tenants.” he said.
The developer described itself as a long-term owner and operator of malls “in conditions like the Muncie Mall.”
Plans call for the new owner to invest time learning the Muncie community and in determining the path forward for the Muncie Mall.
“Hull Property Group has successfully revitalized similar properties by working closely with local leadership and hopes to achieve similar results here in eastern Indiana.” the release said.
Ridenour said Hull also owns retail properties in the Cincinnati area and the mayor was familiar the company’s success in reviving retail centers in Rome, Georgia, and in Dalton, Georgia.
He said the company tends to seek out retail centers in cities that serve a regional market and Muncie qualifies as that with $1.37 billion annual retail sales.
Wells Fargo Bank sold the property to Hull. The bank bought the mall at a sheriff’s sale on May 10 last year. Developer Washington Prime Group ceased paying the mortgage on the property in 2020 and filed bankruptcy in 2021. Last spring the bank’s asking price for the Muncie Mall was $32 million.
Once a thriving shopping destination, the local mall suffered as shoppers turned their attention to buying online and the COVID-19 pandemic caused many to avoid shopping at stores. Two of three anchor spots at the mall are currently empty, along with much of the interior space the mall, which was built 54 years ago.
Ridenour said the new owner’s first order of business will be to stabilize the mall for the remaining tenants.
“It occupies a prominent location in our important retail corridor, and a defined, first-class retail corridor attracts additional retail investment and tenants to our community,” he said about the property. “We are pleased that a group with Hull Property Group’s experience has purchased the mall, and we look forward to working with them.”
Hull Property Group said it has more than 45 years of experience specializing in retail real estate and a track record of acquiring and re-positioning underperforming enclosed malls.
“Our formula of stabilize, revitalize, and reposition has proven successful for our company, and we aim to accomplish that here in Muncie,” said John Mulherin, Hull vice president of government relations. “The decline of this property did not occur overnight, and it will not be fixed overnight, but we are ready to put in the work and capital to offer an improved shopping experience for Muncie.
“We look forward to getting to know the community better and being the good steward that this important property needs.”
David Penticuff is a reporter with The Star Press in Muncie. He can be contacted at email@example.com.