Trotwood wins bid for former Salem Mall Sears property

Trotwood officially won the bid for the Sears box at the former Salem Mall. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
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Trotwood officially won the bid for the Sears box at the former Salem Mall. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

The Trotwood Community Improvement Corporation has won the final bid in federal bankruptcy court to buy the former Sears building located on Salem Avenue.

At nearly three times its initial offer, the Trotwood CIC won the second and final round of bidding for the former Sears building with a cash offer of $225,000, said Fred Burkhardt, executive director of the economic development group. The city previously offered $70,000 for the site, but another investor made a higher bid, saying the property was worth more.

The building is valued at $400,000, according to Montgomery County property records. The sale is currently in escrow and paperwork is all that stands between Trotwood taking control of the 16 acres within the next 30 days.

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“What we’re looking to achieve is to position the Sears property to be the catalyst for what happens to the 56 acres immediately adjacent to it, the old Trotwood mall, the Salem Mall,” he said.

Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald previously told the Dayton Daily News the timeline for redevelopment begins immediately when the city takes control. Trotwood will now own all parts of the former Salem Mall site.

Built in 1966, the mall suffered a decline in the 1990s when JCPenney and Lazarus, two of its anchors, closed.

The Trotwood Community Improvement Corporation bought the Salem Mall, aside from the Sears store, in 2004, according to Montgomery County records. It demolished all that it owned in 2006 as Sears continued to operate as a stand-alone until it closed in 2014, and the property has remained vacant since.

There was still leftover debris on the 56-acre site until a $200,000 federal grant helped with cleanup costs in 2018 and this year. It’s now clear and grass is growing, McDonald said.

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Once the building is in Trotwood’s possession, the first steps will be to fully secure it, Burkhardt said. There have been 20 break-ins since the beginning of January, he said.

After that, the city will do a complete assessment of any damages to infrastructure while the building was vacant, including an assessment of the HVAC. There has been some attrition to the electrical system, which will be fixed before moving forward, Burkhardt said.

Once floor plans are drawn up to determine how the building could be split or utilized, CIC will begin considering uses for the space. As of Monday afternoon, one letter of intent had been provided that included 60,000 square feet for a microbrewery and aquaponics operation and 14,000 square feet for a public market similar to Findlay Market in Cincinnati or North Market in Columbus, Burkhardt said.

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“That is all tentative and a non-binding letter of intent, but that’s the nature of what we would expect to see happen,” Burkhardt said. “Now that the property appears to be ours, we will be aggressively marketing it as well. So while that is the non-binding letter of intent we have in hand, that is not necessarily what it’s going to end up.”

The total mall property is expected to be mixed-use, including housing, business and retail, McDonald said.

“It was essential that we capture this building,” Burkhardt said. “Action generates action and clearly we’re now generating attention for not just the building that we acquired, we’re generating interest now and exposure for the mall in general and Trotwood in general.”

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