The auction for the 260,000-square-foot shopping center in the 2300 to 2500 blocks of MacArthur Boulevard was handled by Ten-X on behalf of bond holders who own the center’s assets, according to Paul Barile, a managing director for Transwestern, a company that assists in real-estate sales.
“It was a good price for everybody,” Barile said, noting that Springfield’s first outlying shopping center, which opened in 1961, is 65% vacant.
Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin said he has been “very impressed” with Larkspur and walked the Town & Country site with Larkspur president David Bernstein two weeks ago.
The firm’s website says the business has operated for 11 years, has an office staff of six and owns $70 million in assets. Larkspur Properties says on its website that it primarily operates in Florida markets and “identifies undervalued real estate by employing a micro-focused, ground-up investment approach.”
Bernstein declined comment when reached by phone.
The biggest empty space at Town & Country, covering 65,000 square feet, had been occupied by Burlington Coat Factory, which relocated in 2018 to the southeast corner of Veterans Parkway and Wabash Avenue.
McMenamin said Bernstein told him during their meeting that Larkspur plans to convert the former Burlington Coat Factory space into attractive, climate-controlled units for indoor storage. The storage rental industry is growing throughout the country, McMenamin said.
Stable revenue from storage can help fund other improvements the company is considering for the site, he said.
Larkspur appears to be “very hands-on” and has several Midwestern properties, including a former Walmart that Larkspur converted into an indoor storage facility in Belleville, McMenamin said.
Larkspur says it wants to improve Town & Country’s parking lot, building facades and possibly build additional retail space in areas of the property now used for parking, according to McMenamin.
The minimum bid in the Town & Country auction was $1.6 million; the property is listed in Sangamon County tax records with a fair-market value of more than $8 million.
Ten bidders participated in the auction, Barile said.
He said the sale won’t disrupt the leases of existing tenants, which include the Illinois State Board of Education, Dollar Tree, Citi Trends, Chuck E. Cheese, Tuesday Morning, Hibachi Grill Supreme Buffet and Underdog Sports, Memorabilia & Games.
The property previously was owned by an investor group that included Springfield developer Corky Joyner and city attorney Jim Zerkle. Ownership later transferred from Joyner and Zerkle's limited liability company to JPMorgan Chase.
JP Morgan filed a foreclosure claim in 2019 when Joyner and Zerkle's group failed to make required monthly payments on a loan.
Ownership eventually transferred from JPMorgan to a corporate representative for owners of commercial-backed securities, Barile said.