Holding company buys Bemberg Shopping Center

Photo by Dave Boyd
A Bristol-based company paid $1.9 million to buy Bemberg Shopping Center property one week before the land was to be sold at a public auction.

By Thomas Wilson
A limited liability company that filed incorporation papers with the Tennessee Secretary of State's office only last week has purchased the Bemberg Shopping Center only days before the property was to be auctioned.
Bemberg Shopping Center, LLC of Bristol, Tenn., paid $1,915,100 to buy the 13.28-acre shopping center property on West Elk Avenue, according to the county Register of Deeds office. The property had been scheduled for public auction to the highest bidder on Friday after former owners -- Seville Properties I of Braselton, Ga. -- defaulted on the mortgage.
"A deal was struck that benefited all those people prior to the foreclosure auction," said David L. Cole, whose firm was hired to market and auction the property. "We were hired to market the property and something good happened for everybody so we don't have to go through the foreclosure."
The company filed its articles of incorporation on Oct. 14, 2003, according the Secretary of State's office. The Secretary of State lists Michael D. Hamlin as its registered agent for the company.
A foreclosure notice was issued by the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz on the property on Sept. 22 citing that the company had defaulted on its mortgage to First Tennessee Bank.
According to deed records, Seville Properties acquired the property in 1982. The shopping center has 118,000 square-feet, including two out parcels. According to the property's lease roll submitted by Seville Properties, just over 73,000 square feet of space is rented with over 45,000 square feet listed as vacant. The last recorded annual total rent of the property is $308,798.64.
The fate of the shopping center's current tenants is unknown. Current shopping center tenants include White's Stores, AutoZone, and the Salvation Army Thrift Shop. AutoZone paid $68,469 in annual rent while the Salvation Army's annual rent was $24,000, according to Seville's lease information. Two property tenants occupy separate buildings -- Amigo's Restaurant and the Medicine Shoppe pharmacy. White's Stores pay the highest annual rent at $102,057, according to the former owner's lease information roll. White's has leased on a month-to-month basis, according to the center's tenant information.
Doug White, president and chief executive officer of White's Discount Foods, said he had not been contacted by the property's new owners as of Tuesday afternoon, but did not foresee any change to White's West Elk location. "I don't have any plans to close that one in Elizabethton unless the new owners can't work something out," said White.
The supermarket chain has announced the closure of its Mountain City and Indian Springs locations in the past week. White said weak economic conditions had precipitated the closure of those two stores. "That and Wal-Mart," he said.
An environmental assessment performed on the property by Real Estate Advisory, LLC, reported no environmental impacts of concern to the shopping center property. A phase I environmental assessment performed on the property by the engineering firm S&ME had suggested environmental concerns might exist on the property "due to the prior inclusion of the property in the Bemberg plant. However, a phase II assessment and a letter issued March 20, 2003 by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation detected no near-surface soil concerns on the shopping center property. In their letter, TDEC officials said the property was not part of the American Bemberg plant and was not subject to any additional environmental assessment or corrective action.