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September 13, 2018

Augusta's Turnpike Mall goes on the market

Maureen Milliken
Maureen Milliken
The Turnpike Mall in Augusta is up for sale using the “call for offers” process. Bed Bath & Beyond, Petco and Texas Road House are tenants at Augusta's Turnpike Mall, which has about 100,000 square feet of available space.

One of Augusta's longtime retail magnets is up for sale.

CBRE|The Boulos Co. is marketing the Turnpike Mall, a 214,900-square-foot shopping center on 26 acres, with an address of 10 Whitten Road, is off exit 109A from I-95.

The mall was built in 1967 and had extensive renovations in 2001 and 2006, according to its marketing brochure. It is being offered without an asking price.

Of the original mall building's nine interior units, three have tenants — Petco, AAA Northern New England and Olympia Sports.

There is an anchor vacancy of 77,535 square feet — the former Sears, which has been vacant since 2016 — and a smaller suite available of 26,500 square feet.

The brochure says, the vacancies, "make this an ideal purchase for companies who prefer to own their real estate and also face a high barrier to entry into markets such as Augusta."

It adds, "Those same availabilities make the opportunity ideal for redevelopment or repositioning within the market."

A newer building adjacent to the original mall building house a Christmas Tree Shops and Bed Bath & Beyond. Texas Roadhouse is on a pad near the entrance.

In an email interview, CBRE|The Boulos Co. Partner Chris Paszyc wrote the company expects to issue a call for offers in October.

The seller is Taurus Augusta Mall LLC. The property is being sold because the seller had a loan out on the property that wasn't being paid, so the lender appointed a receiver to manage, market and sell the center so the loan can be paid off, Paszyc wrote.

The Turnpike Mall is the only enclosed shopping mall between Lewiston and Bangor, he wrote.

When it was built, "Sears and Zayre were the two original anchor stores," he wrote. "Zayre was eventually replaced by Ames, who closed after the bankruptcy of the company in 2002. The 60,000-square-foot store remained vacant until late 2006, when Christmas Tree Shops and Bed Bath & Beyond occupied the space."

A pad site was next developed for Texas Roadhouse, which opened in October 2009.

Overall, the tenancy at the center was stable until late 2016, when Sears announced it would be closing its Turnpike Mall location, he wrote. Sears closed March 2017, leaving vacant a 77,535-square-foot anchor end-cap position in the center.

"Around the same time, it was revealed that the 26,500-square-foot TJ Maxx would leave Turnpike Mall and open in the former Circuit City at the Augusta Marketplace," he wrote. "These two significant spaces along with five inline spaces and two pad sites remain available today."

The center is in very good condition, he wrote. Whether any renovation is needed will depend on the buyer's ultimate goals, he wrote.

CBRE|Boulos has so far seen interest from regional and national retailers, and associated developers, he wrote, adding, "There are also non-retail users interested in repositioning the property for an alternative use."

Valuable aspects of the mall include its location, he said.

The mall is off Exit 109 of Interstate 95 and across Whitten Road from Hannaford supermarket.

It is also west of the city's Western Avenue shipping district, including Augusta Crossing, which has a Target, Lowe's, Staples, Petsmart and AC Moore.

"Over 30,000 vehicles per day pass by the location on Western Avenue, plus visibility from the interstate," he said.

From his perspective as a broker, Paszyc wrote, he sees great potential for mall properties, even at a time when the viability of brick-and-mortar shopping is in question.

"It is undeniable that bricks and mortar retail is in transition," he wrote. "However, its demise is vastly overstated. You wouldn't see digital players like Amazon and Walmart making huge investments in physical locations otherwise. The keys are location, high traffic counts, tremendous visibility, ease-of-access, barriers to market entry and "last-mile" logistics. Turnpike Mall checks all of these boxes."

In the mall's heyday, it was an Augusta destination, with a twin cinema, Mr. Paperback bookstore, DeOrsey's record store and other popular retail stores. Much of the city's shopping focus has moved to Augusta Marketplace in North Augusta, which is the largest open-air mall in the state.

The city's 1960s in-town strip malls have struggled to find tenants in recent years, and the first mall built, Augusta Plaza, which is a mile east on Western Avenue from the Turnpike Mall, is refocusing on office and service tenants, its broker said recently.

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