West Ridge Mall foreclosure finalized, management and tenants optimistic about future

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- After foreclosure proceedings, West Ridge Mall tenants and the management group running it are optimistic about the future.

Wells Fargo Bank, the primary holder of debt against Washington Prime Group, who was the previous owner of the property, bought the mall during a Shawnee County Sheriff property auction.

According to Shawnee County Counselor Jim Crowl, Wells Fargo had the winning bid at the auction for over $27-million dollars.

“The creditor (Wells Fargo) files the foreclosure action. After a period of time, there is typically an auction type sale for the property. The creditor typically puts a bid in on the property if it wants to retain an interest,” Crowl explained.

Washington Prime Group announced via Securities and Exchange Commission filings that it planned to let its lender take control of the property in February.

As part of the agreement, Wells Fargo requested Texas-based Woodmont Company to take over management of the mall in May. A judge granted the request and appointed Woodmont who told 13 NEWS they have big plans for the mall.

"The turnaround starts with improving the tenant sales,” Fred Meno, president and CEO of asset services for Woodmont Company, said, “That's the amount of business each is doing at their cash register."

He says entertainment will be a big focus as well as local retailers.

“Certainly improving the food offering, every type of entertainment concept that isn't represented in the trade area — whether that's bowling, whether that's roller skating, whether that's ice skating, whether it's rock climbing, whether it's escape rooms, all of those things," said Meno back in May.

He also said they'll look at non-retail tenants including medical and office users.

Tenants says they are excited about the change.

“I’ve been there 5 years. Going on almost 6 years. Over the years I felt like as retailers, as the local retailers, maybe our voices weren’t heard quite as much as they could have been. I think that’s done a 180 degree turn,” said Staci Williams, owner of Petland.

Williams says because of the new ideas and the want to make the mall a destination again, it only means things will get better for everyone.

“I really see it coming back in the next 5, 10 years. I really do. So it’s hanging in there and doing what we do,” Williams said with excitement.