published Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Hixson's Oak Park shopping center defaults on loan

  • photo
    Cars fill the parking lot in front of Walmart at the Oak Park Town Center shopping development on Highway 153.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
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One of Hixson's biggest shopping centers is facing a foreclosure sale next month.

The Oak Park Town Center, which includes 168,736 square feet of retail space next to a super Walmart store on Highway 153, is scheduled to be sold on the auction block next month unless the current owners of the complex are able to rework the loan used to fund the decade-old center.

Developer Bucky Wolford, who built and opened the 21-acre shopping center in October 2001, said he hopes the outstanding loans can be reworked, but he declined to discuss any details of the current loan default.

Wolford said the center has suffered since the 2009 bankruptcy and closing of Goody's department store. Among 13 storefronts in the Oak Park Town Center, six are now vacant.

Wolford's development group borrowed $17 million from a lending consortium organized by JP-Morgan Bank a decade ago, according to the Hamilton County Register of Deeds. But property trustee Harry B. Ray, who was appointed to oversee the foreclosure against the property, said the current owners have defaulted on the debt.

Ray has scheduled a foreclosure sale at 10 a.m. on Dec. 6 at the Hamilton County courthouse to dispose of the property.

"Hopefully, something will be resolved on that, but at this point I really can't say much," Wolford said. "Goody's went bankrupt and with the economy being what it is it's been very difficult to replace them. Right now, we've been having to carry the project.

The Hamilton County Assessor of Property appraises the center at $16.5 million and Wolford said his nearby Towne Center North, which includes Target, Best Buy and other retailers, is doing fine. Oak Park Town Center includes Marshall's, Old Navy, Office Depot, Kirkland's and other retailers.

But the value of retail properties in Hixson could be hurt by the recent auction of Northgate Mall in Hixson, which CBL & Associates Properties acquired for just $11.5 million. CBL officials are preparing plans to upgrade the 820,000-square-foot mall.

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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librul said...

Half-empty Hixson shopping malls are going bankrupt - QUICK, lets destroy another hundred acres of Hixson woods and scenery for another shopping mall!

November 10, 2011 at 7:56 a.m.
ChattanoogaVol said...

Right on librul. It is insane that they are even thinking about leveling a mountain to build another shopping center. Insane.

November 10, 2011 at 8:28 a.m.

If it helps the tree huggers in here, think of the trees as babies still in the womb. They can live to be up to 500 years old depending upon the type of tree. Most of the trees on that hill in hixson are not too old. They are just being aborted. It's a choice.

November 10, 2011 at 9:37 a.m.
jsgood35 said...

That is too funny and true FSE.

November 10, 2011 at 12:20 p.m.
flee123 said...

My sentiments exactly, librul! F.P.S.E., our main objection to the proposed Chattanooga Village shopping center isn't simply that we're a bunch of "tree huggers". Hixson has lots of empty commercial real estate that's just sitting there, dragging the surrounding property values down. Instead of radically altering the terrain, let's work on filling up those vacant buildings first.

November 10, 2011 at 2:22 p.m.

I agree that vacant buildings are a problem and don't understand why someone would go to the trouble of building more buildings if the empty ones fit their needs. I will however, never support barring someone from building new buildings and trying to force them to do something just because I don't think they should. I support their freedom to build a new shopping center if they have the money and motivation. If they own the land, they can build whatever they want there.

November 10, 2011 at 2:46 p.m.
librul said...

There's your libertarian view of the world in a nutshell. Anybody with money and motivation should be free to screw things up for everybody else with no controls, no consideration of others, nothing to give them pause but the fear that they might lose money on the deal. It's the essence of profits over people.

THAT is the attitude that made the Cuyahoga River catch fire, made South Broad Street and Alton Park the emphysema capital of Tennessee and even today gives the American Cancer Society its chief reason for being.

November 10, 2011 at 3:25 p.m.
ChattanoogaVol said...

FPSE said: "If they own the land, they can build whatever they want there"

Not exactly.

November 10, 2011 at 3:30 p.m.

Yeah, I should have prefaced that with an "in my opinion". I don't really care what they build there as long as it is within the bounds of the law.

November 10, 2011 at 3:51 p.m.
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