MIDDLEBURG — U.S. Bank National Association purchased the Susquehanna Valley Mall for $5.25 million Friday after waging a bidding war with local developer Robert Grayston.
"I wanted the opportunity to turn the mall around," Grayston said of his interest in the property.
Snyder County will collect a $30,000 commission on the sale, Sheriff John Zechman said.
"I don't like to sell any property, but I'm optimistic the mall will have a positive future," he said.
The sale will not alter the mall's operations and patrons will see no change, said Bob Garrett, president and CEO of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The property was put up for a public sale at the request of the bank in an effort to recover nearly $33.4 million owed by the former owner, Susquehanna Valley Mall Associates (SVMA).
Garrett said the bank was "protecting its investment" by purchasing the mall and this is the first step as it seeks to find a buyer.
The opening bid made by Harrisburg attorney Charles Beckley on behalf of U.S. Bank National Association was for $20,631.
Grayston responded with a $35,000 bid leading Beckley to counter with a $250,000 offer.
From that point, the bids climbed until Grayston offered to spend $5 million and Beckley made the winning bid of $5.25 million.
Before the sale got underway Grayston said he was willing to bid up to $10 million for the property but dropped out when he realized Beckley wasn't going to back down.
Later he rued his decision when he learned from Deputy Kate Reid that the county made a commission off the final sale price.
Zechman said the county makes poundage, or a commission, of 2 percent from the first $250,000 and one-half percent from bids higher than $250,000.
"I would have kept bidding if I'd known the county made money off it," Grayston said.
Tom Wallish of Freeburg was among about 20 people who came out to the afternoon public sale.
"I was just curious. I've never been to one before," he said.
The mall opened in 1978. In the last decade, it has suffered a series of losses in tenants, including anchor stores Bon-Ton, Sears and J.C. Penney.