Walden's Landing to be sold in foreclosure
By JEFF FARRELL and JAKE OLD
One of the city’s newest retail developments is set to be auctioned off on the steps of the Sevier County Courthouse at 10 a.m. Tuesday, but the change reportedly won’t affect tenants.
Walden’s Landing, located on the Parkway near Wears Valley Road in the same area where Ogle’s Water Park once stood, is being sold as a result of a foreclosure. The site includes several shops and restaurants, as well as Sevier County’s only movie theater. It is owned by Holrob Pigeon Forge Partners.
Local businessman Ned Vickers, who is one of the owners, said the only difference tenants should notice is where they send their checks. And that might not change, he said, because Holrob Commercial Real Estate is expected to continue to manage the property. “I doubt the tenants will notice any difference,” he said.
Holrob had obtained funds through a nonrecourse loan, Vickers said, meaning the lender can only reclaim the property in the event of default and doens't have any other option to regain money from the borrowers.
David J. Harris, the substitute trustee overseeing the sale, did not return calls on Wednesday seeking comments for this story.
Vickers said the mall started struggling to make payments during the recession and never completely recovered.
“In 2008 and 2009 we lost a lot of mom and pop tenants there. That was a hard time for retailers,” he said.
“Since that time, we’ve put $2 million into the center of our own cash, including the movie theater which is doing real well.”
To fill the vacant shops, they had to lower their rent, he said. They worked closely with the lenders, and at one point were only making interest payments on the property. But when they resumed making payments on the principal, he said, they found that they couldn’t make enough from the tenants to keep up with the payments.
“Trying to catch up to the period we missed was more than the property could handle,” he said.