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      Citadel Mall making changes amidst financial problems

      (Source: John Gaddy/WCIV)

      By Stacy Jacobsonsjacobson@abcnews4.com

      WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCIV) -- Often the possibility of foreclosure can be negative, but management and tenants at Citadel Mall saw it as an opportunity for change.

      Joe Fischbein started serving his Sesame burgers at the Citadel Mall four years ago.

      "We were hoping with the new movie theater coming in and somebody like us coming in that people were going to follow behind us," he said.

      But that never happened. Fischbein estimated about a quarter of the mall was vacant when Sesame moved in to the mall. It still is, too.

      "We really haven't seen much change; more deterioration than anything," he said.

      The deterioration and vacancy rate could have contributed to owner CBL & Associates Properties, Inc.'s failure to pay the mortgage on the building.

      Citadel Mall general manager Phil Alldredge said a new management company called Spinoso Real Estate Group took over Sept. 1. And soon, pending a court decision, he expected CBL would turn the building back over to lenders.

      "We're trying to continue the day to day like it has been, with the intent to look at what we can do to make it better," Alldredge said.

      The most immediate improvements would be on deferred maintenance items, he said. Those included landscaping, water stains and restroom improvements.

      "Anything could happen," Alldredge said.

      Those upgrades were an easy sell for vendors and shoppers.

      "They told us there's new ownership and they're assuming they're going to spend money. Hopefully they're going to come in here and make some changes and make things better for everybody," Fischbein said.

      "That's a wonderful possibility and hopefully it happens," customer Fred Mouzon said.

      Alldredge expected the legal changes to happen in the next four months, and said hopefully they would have an improvement plan in place within the next year.

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