Shops of Grand Avenue up for auction

The online auction sale of the Shops of Grand Avenue in downtown Milwaukee began Tuesday and is scheduled to be complete on Thursday.

The mall is being sold on Auction.com, which is handling the sale along with Rockwood Real Estate Advisors.

The starting bid for the mall was $4.75 million, and the latest bid for the property was $7.75 million this morning.

The property that is being sold is a four-building complex at 275 W. Wisconsin Ave. with 298,109 square feet of space, and an adjacent 1,748-space parking structure.

The auction will not include the Boston Store building at 331 W. Wisconsin Ave., which is separately owned by Wispark LLC.

WAM DC LLC, a group of Milwaukee civic and business leaders, led by Godfrey & Kahn attorney Stephen Chernof, wants to buy and redevelop The Shops of Grand Avenue by retaining retail space remaining in the western half, but transforming the eastern half of the mall into education facilities for area colleges and universities. The group is asking the city to back up to $20 million in bonding for the project.

The Shops of Grand Avenue is currently owned by a Bank of America commercial mortgage trust. Mid-America Real Estate manages the mall itself and leases the retail space in the property.

The value of the Shops of Grand Avenue, built in 1982, has fallen dramatically over the years as the mall has struggled with high amounts of vacant retail space. An investment group formed by New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. bought the property in 2005 for $31.7 million. In 2012 it was sold in a foreclosure auction for $8.5 million to a subsidiary of the mall’s lender, a group of Bank of America investors.

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