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Cloverleaf's Redo May Cost Millions More

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It's a nagging question that could cost Chesterfield County millions more in its quest to redevelop the aging Cloverleaf Mall: How much is the land worth?

Like many malls, the buildings and the property at Cloverleaf are under separate ownership. The county purchased the buildings for $9.2 million in 2004. But it turns out Chesterfield will be forced to spend at least another $4.25 million, or as much as $7 million or more, to ensure the redevelopment of the 45 acres on which the mall buildings sit.

North Carolina developer Crosland Inc., which is presenting its redevelopment plan to county leaders this week, is expected to purchase the buildings from the county for $9.2 million. Crosland plans to raze the mall and build an upscale residential community with retail shops and offices, but has had difficulty financing the project.

Tom Jacobson, director of community revitalization for Chesterfield, says the developer has agreed to purchase the land at a later date. For how much is unclear.

"We are going to the board of supervisors and asking to initiate the process to make a land purchase," Jacobson says, adding that through its lease arrangement with the landowner, Millmar Properties, the county is paying $28,000 a month to operate the mall. The lease is based on a minimum purchase price of $4.25 million.

If the county offers the minimum $4.25 million, the Millmar family can reject the offer, and then it's up to a third-party real estate appraiser to determine its value.

Enter the Rev. Steve Parson, head pastor of the Richmond Christian Center, which attempted to purchase the mall in 2004. Parson says his church recently made Millmar Properties an offer. He declined to specify the amount, but says it's between $7 million and $9 million.

"They contacted Tom Jacobson to let them know that they do have an offer," Parson says. "The family wants to give the county time to consummate a deal."

Parson met with Chesterfield County Administrator Lane Ramsey last week to discuss the church's plans. His church is still willing to redevelop the mall as the county sees fit, Parson says, as long as it can build a new sanctuary on the property.

He says he's also secured federal housing money to make his deal work. At the very least, his offer will likely affect the final price of the land.

Jacobson, however, says he isn't overly concerned about the price or the developer's willingness to pay. "This project's just very important for the health of the eastern Midlothian area and the county in question," Jacobson says.

Before the Jan. 24 board meeting, Chesterfield County Supervisor Art Warren said he was unaware of how much the land might wind up costing the county. "Obviously, anything to do with negotiations between Crosland and the county would have to wind up being reviewed" by the board, Warren says. S

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