ANDERSON — As was anticipated, the Cook family has paid the delinquent property taxes on the 32 acres that comprise the Mounds Mall.
Florida businessman Mark Squillante purchased the Mounds Mall building at the commissioners’ certificate sale for $12,000 earlier this year and the Cook family decided not to redeem the property.
The Mounds Mall was closed on April 1, 2018.
Attorney Jonathan Cook said the family redeemed the land where the Mounds Mall is located by the Aug. 8 deadline.
The Cook family, through the Elda Corp. and Mounds Mall, paid the $301,027 in taxes owed on several parcels.
Cook said he has talked to Squillante and presented a couple of options for the Florida businessman to either lease or offer to purchase the properties.
“They are going to assess the building before working out a deal with the family pertaining to the property,” Cook said.
Squillante is reportedly determining the status of the roof and heating and air conditioning systems.
Currently the Mounds 10 movie theater and Dr. Tavel Family Eye Care continue to operate inside the former mall because they have exterior entrances.
Cook said the family is in the process of removing items that were being stored in the former Sears store.
“We wanted to have the stored items out of the building before they get the deed,” Cook said. “We don’t want to be tenants.”
Cook said Squillante is now responsible to pay the spring and fall property tax payments. The spring tax installment was made, according to the records of the Madison County Treasurer’s Office.
“We’re excited that someone is interested in putting something in the building,” he said. “We hope to reach an agreement that is beneficial to all the parties and the community.”
Squillante is hoping to repurpose the enclosed mall for retail and commercial development in the future.
“I’m excited,” Squillante said at the time of the purchase. “I’m looking forward to the possibility of working with the mall.”
He said they intend to reach out to the Anderson community and wants input from local residents on a future use for the facility.
“I want it to be a place for kids to come after school,” Squillante said. “My hope is to have some retail.”
Squillante said in a meeting with Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. that at some point a detailed plan for the future of the mall will be announced.
“My understanding is he is working on obtaining the property,” Broderick said. “The intent is to create space to bring people to the mall and that will lend itself to retail development.”
Squillante has already met with the Anderson Fire Department concerning the state fire code.
“It’s a big space that is centrally located,” Broderick said of the Mounds Mall. “If there is an investor willing to put some money into the building and create a venue, it will provide opportunities.”
Greg Winkler, executive director for the Anderson Economic Development Department, said Squillante is presenting a legitimate opportunity for the reuse of the building.
“He understands that it won’t be profitable for a number of years,” Winkler said. “The intention is to create retail and commercial opportunities.”
He said the city is taking a wait-and-see approach to the potential development.
The Mounds Mall opened in 1963 as the first enclosed mall operated by the Simon Property Groups. Simon, the largest shopping mall operator in America, sold the mall in 2003 to Coral Gables, Florida-based Bayview Financial LP.
Bayview sold the Mall in 2009 to Anderson siblings Virgil E. Cook II and Natalie Campbell, who already owned the land the mall was built on.