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Liberty University Buys 75% Interest in River Ridge Mall

River Ridge Mall
River Ridge Mall
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Update 6:21 PM:

After agreeing to buy a 75% interest in River Ridge Mall, Liberty University officials say the school has no plans to use the building for academic purposes.

They're simply joining forces with owner CBL and Associates, which also owns Valley View Mall in Roanoke.

The Sears building, which Liberty University already owned and used for its LU online program, will be redeveloped, bringing in new retail, entertainment, and restaurants.

LU Online will move to the old Nationwide building.

There's some buzz about whether or not LU will have a say in what stores can come or go; will R rated movies stay in the theater?

Will we say goodbye to stores like Spencer's and Victoria's Secret?

"Liberty University is a passive investor in the mall, we're going to let the mall professionals run the mall like they always have, we are not imposing any new retail restrictions on what can be done or what businesses can be in the mall, that's just not true," said LU General Counsel David Corry.

Corry says the Victoria's Secret will actually triple its floor space, and you should see some new stores within about a year and half.

And just to clear up questions about tax exemption, the property's use is what counts in the eyes of the law, so if it's not being used for educational purposes, then it's not tax exempt.


Lynchburg, VA - Liberty University has entered into an agreement with River Ridge Mall owner CBL& Associates to hold a 75% interest in the mall. L.U. paid $33.5 million for the property. CBL will still have 25% ownership, and will maintain the responsibility of leasing and management.

CBL says the former Sears building, which Liberty University already owned, will be redeveloped, bringing in new retail, entertainment, and restaurants. There's no word yet what those will be.

This comes after school president Jerry Falwell Junior has insisted in the past the school had no interest in buying the property, amid a fairly regular wave of rumors to the contrary.

Falwell now says it's part of the school's plan to have a diversified investment portfolio. Falwell also says the university is "pleased to help implement CBL's exciting vision for the mall and to assist in bringing new and improved services to the region."

As far as questions about tax exemptions, city officials tell us the bottom line is, if the property's not being used for LU's educational purposes, it's not tax exempt.

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ABC 13 has many questions and we're working to get answers. Check back here for updates on this story.

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