New sign at Lexington Mall but no more changes planned

A new sign has been erected outside the long-closed Lexington Mall, fueling speculation that a redevelopment might be in the works, but the mall's leasing agent says there's nothing new to report.

The sign, which is on the mall's Richmond Road side, uses the same design as the mall's previous signs, but is now in blue and white instead of the old brown and yellow. The signage along New Circle Road near the mall's rear entrance has not changed.

"I assume the sign only replaces a weather-beaten sign from the winter," said leasing agent Alan Gersh, who works for mall owner Saul Centers of Bethesda, Md. He said he has yet to see the sign.

Gersh denied rumors that have been circulating that a church has approached Saul Centers about using the property for a second location.

"I heard that, too, but I don't know where that came from," said Gersh, who added that Saul Centers has not been approached by any potential tenants.

"We're working as hard and as diligently as we can, but the economy has taken its toll," he said, but he added Saul Centers will be pitching the location at a national real estate conference in a few weeks.

City spokeswoman Susan Straub said Lexington officials continue to stay in touch with Saul. Mayor Jim Newberry said in a statement that the city believes "there have been serious conversations between private interests and Saul Centers ... but we have not been advised as to what plans those private interests might have for the property."

Saul has owned the property since 1974, the year before the mall opened. The mall thrived for decades with high occupancy rates. But it began to lose ground in the 1990s with Fayette Mall's expansion. By 2005, its final tenant, Dillard's, had left and the mall closed.

The only tenants remaining on Saul-owned property are the Perkins and Applebee's restaurants. The other businesses nearby — Central Bank and The Home Depot — own the land on which they sit.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader