It appears the owners of the Honey Creek Mall have retained a commercial real estate firm to market the Honey Creek Mall, but that doesn’t necessarily mean sale of the mall is imminent.

In a November article, the publication Commercial Real Estate Direct reported the mall’s owners, Tennessee-based CBL & Associates, had retained the firm Newmark Knight Frank. It said NKF Capital Markets is to attempt to sell the mall as CBL tries to resolve the property’s $24.4 million mortgage.

The Tribune-Star inquired of Amy Fletcher, senior director of corporate marketing and communications for Newmark Knight Frank, who said Friday she was “checking with our capital markets team. I will let you know as soon as I hear back.”

Stacey Keating, spokeswoman for CBL & Associates Properties, responded to the Tribune-Star, saying, “While we can’t comment on rumors or speculative transactions, we will continue to explore every option that will ensure the future success of the property.”

CBL in 2004 acquired the Honey Creek Mall for $50 million in cash and the assumption of a $33 million non-recourse loan.

For years, stories have circulated that involve Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson buying the mall property.

In a variation that warmed up over the recent holidays, a company in which Gibson is a partner — Spectacle Entertainment — was reportedly buying the Honey Creek Mall property with the intent of locating a casino there.

In response to a question from the Tribune-Star, Gibson said a potential sale of the mall wasn’t connected to him nor efforts to locate a casino in Terre Haute.

“Not true. If it has been sold, I don’t have anything at all to do with it,” Gibson said.

Gibson is a principal investor in a group that intends to acquire two Gary-based Indiana casino licenses. Gibson, along with Rod Ratcliff, former chairman and CEO of Centaur Gaming, are the lead owners of Spectacle Entertainment, formed in March.

Spectacle Entertainment announced in November it will merge with Majestic Holdco LLC in a cash transaction. Majestic Holdco owns the The Majestic Star Casino and The Majestic Star Casino II.

Both are currently located in Buffington Harbor in Gary, but that city is seeking to relocate the casinos, moving them inland within the city.

Gibson and Spectacle are said to be interested in splitting the licenses and moving one elsewhere in Indiana, perhaps Terre Haute, and Gibson has said he’s indeed interested in that possibility.

The Holdco-Spectacle transaction remains under normal regulatory review and could close in the first quarter of this year. However, in terms of Terre Haute’s involvement, relocation of a casino license also would need state approval, and that might prove difficult to obtain.

Discussion of the Honey Creek Mall’s potential sale is likely spurred by its recent loss of three major retailers.

Macy’s closed its doors in late March 2018, and Carson’s did the same in late August. Sears in October announced closing of its store at Honey Creek as that chain attempts to reorganize under bankruptcy.

Malls nationwide have been struggling to retain retailers.

Financial services company Credit Suisse Group, in a research note issued in May, 2017, predicted as many as 25 percent of U.S. malls will close by 2022. It cited bankruptcies, such as Sears, and store closings such as from Michael Kors and Macy’s, as well as the rise of e-commerce and discount chains.

Tribune-Star reporters Howard Greninger and Lisa Trigg contributed to this report, as did content editor Mark Fitton. Fitton can be reached at 812-231-4333 or mark.fitton@tribstar.com