SCRANTON -- The Mall at Steamtown was sold Wednesday in an online auction.
At noon Wednesday, the highest bid on the Mall at Steamtown was just over $1.9 million.
In the hour after that, the numbers kept creeping up on the online auction site, and then around 1 p.m. the bidding closed and someone bought the mall for $5.25 million.
The last few minutes of the online auction were a bidding war between two or more bidders. We don't know who they were or who the victorious bidder was and we may not know for a few weeks. We do know that the owner of the mall's only remaining anchor store, Boscov's, did make a bid.
It doesn't look that exciting but it must have been for the two or more bidders as they fought to buy the Mall at Steamtown.
The online auction ended with a winning bid of $5.25 million. That could be considered a bargain, if you consider that the downtown Scranton mall cost about $90 million to build back in the early 1990s.
"Wow, that's a big loss. But it's better than nothing. If they can bring other business in there, then that's great," said Bess Fette.
The mall's sale is literally a new lease on life. The mall has been in foreclosure and almost half of its stores have left over the past several years.
"That might be the buy of the century. $5.2 (million)? Is that what you said? For a mall that cost $90 plus million to build? That's incredible," said Wayne Evans, a downtown realtor and city councilman.
Evans says Boscov's planned to bid on the mall, The identities of the winning bidder, though, is a mystery.
Whoever it is, Evans thinks they need to put a lot more money into the mall to renovate it.
"Well, I think downtown malls have been found to be failing, not just in Scranton but all over the country. so, that's why you have to reinvent it to be totally different. We're a little concerned that if Mr. Boscov gets the mall he's going to go down the same path. But, he's a smart businessman. He knows what he's doing, so we will find out if he's the guy."
According to auction.com, it could be weeks until we know who the bidders were.
People who shop at the Mall at Steamtown say they're just happy someone bid at all and the mall has another chance.
"Yeah, I'm surprised, in Scranton. But at least they bought it, and hopefully they bring in more businesses because everybody moved to Dickson City," said Scranton resident Santos Alvarez.