Little Rock’s Park Plaza mall set to be auctioned Oct. 28

Park Plaza mall, the insolvent Little Rock shopping center, is scheduled to go on the

Park Plaza mall, the insolvent Little Rock shopping center, is scheduled to go on the auction block on Oct. 28, according to a notice of commissioner’s sale posted on the Pulaski County circuit/county clerk’s website.

But the odds that the county will take and accept a bid from a “regular real estate investor” at the public auction are “slim to none,” according to Kimberly Glover, the court administrator and a commissioner in circuit.

The auction will be held at noon outside Suite 120 at the West Markham Street entrance to the Pulaski County Courthouse.

Pulaski County auctions are routinely held at noon on Thursdays, Glover said. More typically, the auctions involve the foreclosure decrees against single-family homes.

“In those cases, we do have third parties, usually real-estate investors that come and bid on properties and become the owner if they successfully bid on the property,” Glover said.

The notice of commissioner’s sale to auction Park Plaza was filed shortly before 5 p.m. Monday and came almost one month after Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray granted an $86.2 million judgment against the mall owner and granted immediate possession of the property to Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, the trustee of the holders of the original loan against the mall.

The 13-page order also said that if the judgment wasn’t satisfied within 10 days, Deutsche Bank is entitled to sell the property in a judicial sale.

The foreclosure decree came a month after the mall’s owner, CBL Properties of Chattanooga, Tenn., had won approval of its bankruptcy reorganization plan, effective Nov. 1., one year after the regional mall owner filed for bankruptcy protection.

Park Plaza, one of 107 properties owned by CBL at one time, no longer is listed on the company website. CBL told Deutsche Bank attorneys it no longer wanted the property. Other than agreeing to a receiver, Fred Meno of the Woodmont Co., CBL didn’t provide a formal response to the foreclosure complaint filed in January.

The foreclosure stemmed from a $99.4 million loan the mall owner, doing business as Park Plaza Mall CMBS, LLC, obtained from Wells Fargo Bank on March 24, 2011. The loan later was assigned to Deutsche Bank.

Park Plaza CMBS said in court papers that the property didn’t generate enough income to make the required loan payments.

Woodmont Co., as part of its receiver responsibilities, has been marketing available space for lease at Park Plaza on its website, describing the property as “the premier shopping center in Little Rock.”

The mall covers 547,000 square feet, including two Dillard’s locations that were not part of the sale. Dillard’s owns its stores at the site, which is considered the Little Rock department store chain’s flagship properties.

The lead attorney for Deutsche Bank, Charles T. Coleman of the Little Rock law firm of Wright, Lindsey & Jennings, said Tuesday that his client “has instructed me to not visit with the press about the Park Plaza case.”

In another court document Coleman helped prepare, however, Deutsche Bank assigned its “right, title and interest” in the foreclosure decree against Park Plaza to a limited liability company registered with the state on Sept. 16 and called RSS WFRBS2011-C3-AR PPM, which likely will become the owner once the auction is completed.

The agent for the LLC has the same address as another Little Rock law firm, Eichenbaum Liles. Its officers include Rialto Capital Advisors, LLC, which is listed as its manager; and Sorano Georgescu,who is listed as the incorporator and organizer.

Rialto is a real estate investment and management firm based in Miami. Georgescu is the firm’s associate general counsel, according to her LinkedIn page. The firm specializes in commercial mortgage backed securities and “distressed/non-performing loans,” among other things.

Jay Chesshir, the president and chief executive officer of the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, remains optimistic that whoever eventually takes possession of Park Plaza will be able to revive the property, especially given its Midtown location “in the middle of the city’s health-care corridor and anchor tenant.

“I really believe that another, maybe more well-positioned, developer will step forward and transform Park Plaza into what the future of retail is going to look like, which is not going to look like what Park Plaza was in the past,” he said.

Chesshir said he personally knew no developer actively pursuing acquisition of the mall, but said he is “certain that conversations are being had with potential developers to step in and do those things.”