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Agreement reached for sale of High Point's Showplace

No word yet on terms of deal, which requires court approval

Heath E. Combs, Staff Staff -- Casual Living, April 18, 2011

The court-appointed receiver for Showplace filed a motion last week seeking approval of a sale of the property in Guilford County Superior Court in Greensboro, N.C.

Court documents list the buyer only as Showplace Acquisition Co.

No terms of the purchase and sale agreement between Lincoln Harris, the receiver in the case, and the buyer were included in court documents filed last week, although the motion said the parties entered into the agreement on March 29. A hearing on an order to approve the sale was set for May 5.

A sale of Showplace would be the third major deal for a High Point showroom property. It apparently is part of a reported deal that could bring the majority of the High Point Market space and the World Market Center in Las Vegas under a single ownership.

The former Merchandise Mart Properties in High Point were sold last month to an entity called High Point Acquisition Co. for $139.5 million. As with Showplace, court papers haven't identified who is behind that company.

Bassett Furniture Inds. said in a recent SEC filing that it and other owners of High Point's International Home Furnishings Center had reached an agreement to sell the IHFC for $275 million to a purchaser known only as IHFC Acquisition Co. Bassett said it expects the sale to close by April 29.

Recent reports have indicated that the buyer of all the properties may be a venture formed by The Related Cos., an original investor in World Market Center, with investment funds Oaktree Capital Management and Bain Capital.

Showplace, along with other downtown High Point showroom properties held by the Showplace owners, was placed in receivership in 2009 by a Guilford County judge after its owners defaulted on an $81 million note held by Bank of America.

The receivership involves Showplace and Showplace West (the former First Factors building at 101 S. Main St.), as well as smaller showroom buildings at 200 N. Hamilton St., 320 N. Hamilton St. and 330 N. Hamilton St.

All told, the properties have more than 700,000 square feet of showroom space, including about 470,000 square feet in Showplace.

Showplace was purchased in 2005 by private equity firm Walton Street Capital and three North Carolina developers, High Point residents Maurice Hull and Coy Williard Jr. and Charlotte resident Paul Bell.

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