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City of Huntington to purchase Pullman Square

Charleston-Huntington WSAZ-TV logo Charleston-Huntington WSAZ-TV 6/30/2022 Kelsey Souto
Pullman Square - Huntington, West Virginia © Provided by Charleston-Huntington WSAZ-TV Pullman Square - Huntington, West Virginia

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The city of Huntington has made moves to purchase Pullman Square and become the majority owner of the retail complex.

City leaders say they’ve been working with the current owners for about a year to reach an agreement in the $7 million deal. They say $4 million will be used to reduce debt and $3 million will pay for the partnership.

In a Huntington Municipal Development Authority meeting held Thursday afternoon, a subsidiary called Downtown Investments, LLC was formed and will soon own 72.5% of Pullman Square.

The current owners say the COVID-19 pandemic affected the shopping center, restaurants and movie theatre economically.

All five Metropolitan Huntington owners live out of state and three were expressing interest in entertaining offers.

Mayor Steve Williams says this presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, because of available American Rescue Plan Act funds to give the city local control and vested interest in Pullman’s future.

About 500 people work at Pullman Square, and leaders say that customers will see no visible changes. Existing lease agreements with commercial tenants will not change.

The deal will reduce Pullman Square’s current debt to $8.8 million, saving nearly $400,000 a year. That would allow for more operating cash.

Tim Rollins and Bill Dargusch of Metropolitan Pullman Partners will continue to each own 13.75 percent of Pullman Square and continue to maintain management and operation. The group will continue as a tax paying entity.

The city says since Pullman Square opened in 2004, the assessed tax value in downtown has increased by $21 million.

Officials say the economic impact of Pullman has been significant, citing a downtown tax-increment financing district that was formed before the center opened. A 30-year bond was established to pay for improvements. It ended up being paid off in 15 years which allowed for the financing of a second TIF project, the Mountain Health Arena Plaza.

The development of Pullman Square started with the Tri-State Transit Authority who received a federal grant to construct parking garages and public parking spaces within the Pullman footprint. Ongoing negotiations are underway to reach a new lease agreement with them.

Thursday’s meeting was the first-step in the process before the deal closes.

City officials say most of the shopping centers in the region are owned by out-of-state, private groups and it’s rare to have not only a seat the table, but a say in the future of the downtown commerce landscape.

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