|Questions Abound As Berkshire Mall Closes Again|
|Staff Reports, |
03:57AM / Friday, March 22, 2019
|The mall was closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.|
A sign on the door on Thursday reads that the mall is 'closed for the day' so it seems management intends to open on Friday.
UPDATE: Friday, March 22, 2019 at 1:30 p.m.
The mall remains closed. Regal Cinema and Target are still open.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Berkshire Mall mysteriously closed for two days, one week after a judge ordered the sheriff's office to seize close to $300,000 in assets to pay off a court settlement.
Mall management has been unavailable over the last two days. The mall was closed on Wednesday afternoon. The entrance door was open providing access to the separate Regal Cinemas, but tables and a security fence blocked access to the rest of the mall. Target also remained open.
On Thursday, the doors were locked with a handwritten sign reading "the mall is closed for the day." No reason was given for why the mall closed and attempts to reach officials were unsuccessful.
The rumors have ranged from not having electricity, which has twice before caused the mall to close, to the loss of water. Neither reason could be confirmed. Attempts to call a few existing stores in the building went unanswered.
However, something else may be brewing. Just last week Judge John Agostini signed off on a writ of execution calling on the sheriff's cffice to collect $298,146.92 from Berkshire Mall Realty Holding.
The district, which is a taxing entity of the various mall condominiums to pay for the Connector Road, took Berkshire Mall Realty Holding, which is owned by Kohan Retail Investment Group, to court over unpaid bills. The district was seeking $276,859 plus interest from the property
In February, Agostini had ruled in the district's favor.
The Baker Hill Road District had taken a new tactic to secure back taxes from the Berkshire Mall. That judgment hadn't been paid, apparently, and in early March, the district filed for an execution to force payment. The order issued on March 13 demanded payment of $298,146.92, which is the original judgment plus interest.
Multiple attempts to discuss the case with Baker Hill Road District's attorney over the last week or so were unsuccessful and court documents reveal little about the method of execution.
The trend for Kohan Retail Investment Group, both locally and nationally, is that it falls behind in taxes and bills and then pays enough back taxes to keep its shopping malls operating. At the same time, the company continues to purchase properties. On March 12, news organizations in Maine reported Kohan had purchased a mall
there for $4.65 million.
Meanwhile, the Berkshire Mall continues to lose tenants. Recently the Berkshire Mall Emporium, an antiques and gift shop, closed in the former J.C. Penney area after less than a year and DJ's Gifts temporarily closed for the summer. Those were coupled with the loss of Victoria's Secret and Master Cuts. Most of the large national chain retail stores that had been in the mall like Victoria's Secret and Penney's have been closing stores throughout the country — a trend that has often been called a "retail apocalypse."
A handful of businesses do remain in the Lanesborough shopping center alongside the anchors of Regal Cinemas and Target, both of which own their own spaces. The businesses that are there tend to be smaller, more locally-based businesses, many of which have reported positive relationships with mall management.
But more stores have been moving out than in. In the last three years, tenant after tenant had left, following the closure of anchors Best Buy, Macy's, Sears and J.C. Penney. At some point, the existing businesses were all moved toward the end of the food court and a large portion of the building has been closed off to the public.