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Park Plaza bought by bank that formerly held mortgage on the mall

2021-10-28-Park_Plaza_auction-3219.jpg
Michael Hibblen
/
KUAR News
The auction of Park Plaza was brief with attorney Charles Coleman (right) submitting the only bid which was on behalf of lender Deutsche Bank. Leading the auction Thursday was Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth (left) and Circuit Court Administrator Kim Glover.

The future of Park Plaza Mall in Little Rock is unclear after the property was sold at an auction Thursday. With only one bidder during a brief proceeding at the Pulaski County Courthouse, the 61-year-old mall was sold for $100,000.

“The opening bid is $100,000 on behalf of the plaintiff’s assignee. Do I have any other bids more than $100,000 dollars? Going once, going twice, three times. Sold to the plaintiff’s assignee,” said Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth. The only bid came from a representative of Deutsche Bank.

Arkansas Business reported earlier this month that the mall’s owner defaulted on a loan from the bank, with the auction ordered to satisfy an $86.2 million judgment, which was awarded to Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas against Park Plaza Mall CMBS LLC of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In court papers, the bank said that as of July 1 it is owed the judgment and additional court costs and attorneys’ fees. The order for the foreclosure was entered on Sept. 13 and Park Plaza was given 10 days to pay the judgment.

Kim Glover, the court administrator for Pulaski County Circuit Court, explained “Because the plaintiff’s assignee was the winning bidder, they’re allowed to credit that bid against the plaintiff’s judgment. So what will need to be tendered to us is the cost of the sale.”

The cost of sale includes the commissioner’s fee and the recording fee for the deed.

Attorney Charles Coleman made the bid on behalf of the lender, but could say nothing more about the future plans for the property.

“I don’t have the freedom to say anything, I really don’t,” Coleman told KUAR News after the auction.

“They haven’t given us any indication of what’s going to happen to Park Plaza Mall,” Hollingsworth said. “Let’s hope that it continues. Not only is it a history point, it’s a destination point.”

Park Plaza
KATV-Channel 7
The entrance to Park Plaza Mall from W. Markham Street in Little Rock.

The clerk’s office holds judicial sales every Thursday at noon, making this a normal event for Hollingsworth. She said at the courthouse it is typical to only have one bidder.

“I would say it’s unique because it’s a mall, but other than that it’s very routine,” she said.

Watching the auction was Phillip Lee Willyard, a contractor who worked on the mall during the last six months and earlier between 1991 and 1997 to make repairs. He said he was concerned about the future of the mall.

“From what I’ve seen with the mall, it’s declined in the last six months. And, it’s unfortunate because it’s a staple of the community,” Willyard said in an interview. “It’s been here for a very, very long time. Everybody identifies with it. It’s a great place.”

Willyard commented about the price the mall was sold for, saying he hoped it stayed as a part of the community.

Getting it at that price, they’re going to have money to be able to invest in and make the repairs necessary to make it enjoyable for the people.”

Like other malls in the country, Park Plaza has suffered from changes in shopping patterns, especially as online retailing has grown. Mall anchor Dillard’s, which is based in Little Rock, owns the property it sits on and won’t be immediately impacted by the change in ownership.

Remington Miller is a reporter/anchor for KUAR News. She was previously an intern at the station as part of the George C. Douthit Endowed Scholarship program. Miller is a student at UA Little Rock and studies Journalism and English. She is to graduate in May 2022.
Michael Hibblen is News Director of UA Little Rock Public Radio. A 34-year radio veteran, he oversees the KUAR News staff, plans coverage and edits stories while also reporting and anchoring newscasts.
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