AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Business owners at the Staunton Mall say they have been blindsided by a letter giving them 30 days to vacate. We’re also learning talk about potential demolition for the mall, which actually sits in Augusta County, appears to be true.
“Please vacate the premises within 30 days of the date of this letter which is November 24,” Matthew Shiflett, who co-owns Know Knew Books at the Staunton Mall is reading from a letter he received on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The letter was hand-delivered on behalf of the Staunton Mall’s new owner, Staunton EM 2 LLC.
Know Knew Books’ other owner, Bill Burruss, says there was no warning they would be given a month to get out.
“They sprung it on us so quick without any consideration for what all is involved in that that it puts us in a position of having to find a space and move the amount of inventory and shelving and equipment that we have and basically between now and the 24th,” said Burruss. “It’s insane. I mean it’s just overwhelming.”
Augusta County Administrator Tim Fitzgerald says the new owners submitted an erosion and sediment control plan for demolition purposes the night of Wednesday, November 25. It’s the step before getting a building permit for demolition according to Fitzgerald.
“The current plan shows all of the buildings being demoed with the exception of the Belk building. The Belk building plans to... the plan is for it to remain where it’s at,” stated Fitzgerald.
It also leaves the building housing Red Lobster, McDonald’s, and Dollar Tree.
In the meantime, several business owners are left with the challenge of finding new, affordable locations in the midst of the holidays.
“We’ll miss the best month of the year, but more importantly we’re just trying to, trying to stay open for the future,” said Shiflett.
Fitzgerald anticipates a proposal for potential rezoning with a mixed-use concept for the property, despite rumors of a truck stop planned. He says he expects to know more in the next month or so.