Berkshire Mall Set to Be Sold in June

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Stores in the Berkshire Mall have been advised that a new owner will take over this June.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Berkshire Mall is set to be sold this June through a Tennessee real estate developer.

The new owner is expected to pour millions into the 26-year-old mall, currently owned by Pyramid Companies of Syracuse, N.Y.

CBL & Associates Inc., based in Chattanooga, is "working on behalf of the new owner who will take possession of the property around June 9th," CBL's Vice President of Asset Management Scott Word wrote in an email. He was not able to give out anymore further information at this point.

CBL representatives reportedly walked through the mall last week to meet with the 60 or so proprietors and managers of the current establishments. Tenants were told that CBL would honor agreements made prior to the sale and that there were plans to improve the 700,000-square-foot shopping center and its offerings.

The real estate investment trust (NYSE:CBL) specializes in developing new centers and also in turning distressed properties around; it operates or has a stake in 150 properties in 30 states, including its only other current Massachusetts holding, the Hanover Mall, near Boston.

It currently has about a dozen outlets, malls and open-air plazas at various stages of development.

In April, CBL's President and CEO Stephen Lebovitz said the firm's goals for growth would include selling off stable but lower-growth mall and "non-core properties" and focusing on redevelopment, new development  and "selective acquisitions."

The Berkshire Mall has had its ups and downs. Originally envisioned as an urban plaza in downtown Pittsfield, the city's residents rejected the idea and the sprawling complex was built just over the border in Lanesborough in 1988.

The original anchor stores included a Sears and J.C. Penney, both of which are still there, and a Hills Department Store, which was later replaced by an Ames and then Target. The mall also features a Macy's and Best Buy that were added on later.

Still, the mall has seen a number of smaller outlets leave or go under after a few years, including Old Navy, and has a more than a few empty spots.

In February, its $36.9 million loan was transferred to a special servicer for failure to make payments over two months, according to an industry analyst. The mall, operating as Lanesborough Enterprises New Co., took out a loan for $37.5 million 2004 and asked it be continued several times.

The property is assessed at $33.5 million by the town. According to the analyst, the appraisal of the property was lowered by $14.5 million last year. The mall had appealed the assessment after overpaying for several years.

A call to Pyramid Companies has not yet been returned.

Tags: Berkshire Mall,   

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