At closing time on July 9, JCPenney will become yet one more shuttered storefront in the beleaguered Mayberry Mall, the same date a judge is expected to begin hearing a case to determine the fate of the mall’s ownership.
After an almost 90-year history in the city of Mount Airy, JCPenney is counting down its final days in the city.
Joey Thomas, corporate communications and public relations, JC Penney Company, said on Friday, “We do still plan for our Mount Airy location to close on or about July 9.”
Though Thomas’ stated closing date of “on or about July 9” is no more precise than the original statement given on June 8, a sign in the front window which reads ‘Last 10 Days’ is more precise, as is the store’s voicemail greeting which pinpointed the last day of business as July 9 (before announcing the voicemail box was full and refusing to take a message). However, on the company website, the store is already marked as closed.
Which is clearly not accurate as a steady stream of shoppers are taking advantage of the 70- to 90-percent markdowns announced in the front window.
“It’s a little hit or miss now,” said a shopper leaving the store who declined to give her name. “But there are a lot of people in there.”
When confirming the store’s closure on June 8, JCPenney cited the condition of the building as the reason for closing the store, saying the building “requires proper maintenance for the safety and comfort of customers and associates.”
Surry County officials deemed the former KMart location in the mall “unsafe” and put it off-limits to the public until repairs were done. The county also has threatened to shut down the entire mall several times over concerns with leaking roofs and other structural issues.
Mayberry Mall Realty Management in Great Neck, New York, which has owned the mall during much of the time it was falling into disrepair, agreed to sell the KMart portion of the facility to Rural King last year, and T. Scott Smith’s WRS Inc. has attempted to purchase the rest of the mall (except for the building housing Belk, which is owned by Belk), but legal wrangling between the three companies has prevented a sale from being completed.
In an email sent to the Mount Airy city board and city manager on Monday, city attorney Hugh Campbell said, “Litigation is still pending. Attorney for mall owner has requested a one-week delay, until 7/09/18, to allow time to finalize terms of settlement, including the cross easements and final inspections. If not resolved, I expect that the trial may commence during the week of July 9.”
“In that case,” said city Commissioner Jim Armbister, “the judge will make a decision.”
“In the meantime, representatives from Rural King are supposed to be arriving this week with the expectation of finalizing settlement and conducting final inspections,” continued Campbell in his email to the board.
The next day, Brandon Hawks, city building inspector, notified the city board in an email that, “I conducted a final inspection over Kmart and forwarded the attached email to the roofing contractor. There are a few items needing completion before we give 100-percent approval to the roofing contractor for the Kmart portion of the roof.”
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.