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New owners announce purchase of Galleria

It's official -- the Rock Hill Galleria has a new owner.
Mall tenants received a letter Friday notifying them to send all future lease payments to JTL Rock Hill, LLC.

The company closed the deal on the Dave Lyle Boulevard property July 23, said company associate Brucker Stensrud. He declined to comment on specific details of the transaction. David A. Lane is the company's managing partner, along with Mark J. Sullivan of JTL Capital, headquartered in Dallas, Brucker said. The J and T in the company name are initials for Lane's daughters.

In a written statement, Lane said, "We are very pleased with our purchase of the Rock Hill Galleria. It is a great property in a great town, and we look forward to adding to the tenant mix."

Lane added they are in preliminary negotiations to bring an investment credit tenant in to fill the former Phar-Mor space. One of the original anchor tenants at the Galleria, Phar-Mor closed in 1992.

Letters were hand delivered by Reitz to tenants Friday. News of new ownership has a few mall tenants hopeful that JTL will bring improvements to the 12-year-old, 650,000-square-foot mall.

Goody's Family Clothing came to the Galleria in 1998 and has never had a negative experience, said store manager Robert Lucas.

"I've never been in a situation where mall ownership changed," Lucas said. "I can only expect the change would be positive."

Several other tenants echoed Lucas' comment, adding they'd like to see an overall facelift, including a fresh coat of interior paint and additional restroom facilities. There is now only one public mall restroom, which is located near the food court.

The mall had been on the market for the past several months. Cypress Equity, a Texas real estate investment and development firm, told The Herald in May that company officials had looked at the Galleria property but decided not to buy it.

Rumors the Galleria would be sold circulated among local merchants two years ago when the owner, Zamias Services, filed for bankruptcy, according to a mall tenant who spoke on conditions of anonymity.

According to published re-ports, the bankruptcy filing was the result of a lawsuit with American Property Consultants, a New York real estate investment banking firm. A New York jury ordered Zamias Services to pay $11.4 million, money it allegedly owed the N.Y. firm for assistance in forming a shopping mall partnership in 1997. Zamias Services appealed the ruling. Zamias Services is a sister company to George D. Zamias Developer, founded in 1957.

First indications of an ownership change came when mall merchants received a letter dated March 11 from Rock Hill Property SPE LLC, care of a New York management company instructing them to send lease payments to an Ohio mortgage company. A July 23 letter from the same company notified Galleria tenants "the ownership of the Premises has been transferred by Rock Hill Property SPE LLC to JTL Rock Hill, LLC (the New Owner)."

Nancy Reitz and Zamias Services have been retained as the mall's management.

The Galleria was built on 80 acres sold to George Zamias by the Warren Norman Co. of Rock Hill. It was about half-full when it opened in 1991. In addition to Phar-Mor, major stores then included Sears and Belk. Today, there are about 60 stores and a full food court. A Super Wal-Mart also is located at the site.

Contact Denyse Clark at 329-4069 or dclark@heraldonline.com.

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