An upscale Boardwalk shopping mall that has struggled to attract customers in the sluggish economy did not sell during a three-day online auction that had set a minimum bid of $20 million.
A group of lenders that bought The Pier Shops at Caesars in a foreclosure sale last year had hoped to find a new buyer this week on the website Auction.com. However, the auction ended Wednesday without a sale, mall representatives said.
Trevor B. Gibbons, a spokesman for C-III Capital Partners, a Texas-based asset manager helping The Pier’s lenders, said Thursday that efforts would continue to sell the mall.
Gibbons declined to disclose how much was bid, saying only that The Pier “did not achieve the reserve price and therefore the auction was ended.”
“There have been some erroneous reports that The Pier at Caesars has been sold and a loss will now be recognized by the trust,” Gibbons wrote in an email, referring to the group that controls the mall.
Lenders, including U.S. Bank National Association, bought The Pier for $25 million during a foreclosure sale last October. The mall went into foreclosure after its previous owner, Taubman Centers Inc., defaulted on a $149.7 million mortgage.
The foreclosure sale brought only a fraction of the mall’s $200 million development cost. The complex opened in 2006, during the height of Atlantic City’s real estate boom. Since then, property values have tumbled in the fragile economy.
The Pier was part of Atlantic City’s efforts to diversify its attractions beyond casino gambling, but has fallen short of expectations. Despite its prime oceanfront location and a collection of high-end retailers, the mall has not lured droves of free-spending tourists.
However, one high-profile tenant, called One Atlantic, has been enjoying strong business, said its director, Elizabeth McGlinn. One Atlantic is perched on the top floor of The Pier and is a venue for weddings, corporate meetings, banquets and other special events.
“One Atlantic is doing very well,” McGlinn said. “We already have bookings for 2014.”
McGlinn said she expects the lenders to continue to hold auctions to test the value of the mall. She remains optimistic that The Pier will find new tenants to improve business.
“Right now, we’re business as usual,” McGlinn said. “When the bank took over, we were expecting they would put new assets into The Pier and get new tenants.”
The four-level mall, jutting 900 feet out over the ocean, includes a mix of retail shops boasting such glitzy names as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. Other attractions include restaurants and an elaborate water and sound show featuring dancing fountains.
The Pier is connected to Caesars Atlantic City by an enclosed pedestrian skybridge spanning the Boardwalk. Caesars Entertainment Corp., the casino’s parent company, referred questions about the auction to mall representatives.
Contact Donald Wittkowski: