LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Berkshire Mall is set to be sold to a New York investment firm which specializes in distressed malls.
Mehran Kohanseih, also known as Mike Kohan, said he will close on a sale of the mall Friday for $3.5 million. His goal is to be a "hands-on" owner and bring new tenants.
"It has a lot of challenges we are trying to overcome," Kohan said of the Berkshire Mall on Thursday.
His firm, Kohan Retail Investment Group of Great Neck, N.Y., owns more than a dozen malls. The firm will is purchasing The Berkshire Mall from Strategic Asset Services, which bought it in 2014 from Pyramid Companies. CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. has been managing the property and it was said that millions were going to be invested into the 700,000 square-foot shopping center.
Since then, however, Macy's and Best Buy both closed - shrinking the number of anchors. The mall has been losing tenants for a number of years and the assessed value of the property has dropped from $60.4 million in 2008 to just $31.5 million in 2016.
The town of Lanesborough has been battling in appeals court over the assessment numbers, which was appealed for both 2015 and 2016.
Kohan is telling tenants — former, current or possible — to forget any bad experiences with any of the previous owners and wants to be welcomed into the community. He says with more tenants, the mall could become revitalized.
"We are here to help. We are here to help the merchants," Kohan said. "I'm here to overcome. I'll be a hands-on owner. We're not going to be absentee owners."
Kohan said he won't be honoring any third-party agreements, meaning CBL & Associates Properties will no longer manager the property.
"We are managing our malls ourselves. But we are keeping the staff," Kohan said.
The deal has been in the works for three or four months, according to Kohan, who found the mall being marketed in the price range he wanted. In recent weeks, the news had spread among town officials as the previous owners tied up loose ends.
The Berkshire Mall is the town's largest taxpayer and officials have raised much concern for its future — with the hope being that it could be revitalized.
Kohan wouldn't promise that the mall could overcome the obstacles and not all of the distressed malls Kohan purchases were able to be saved. But, he said he'll be giving it a shot to bring more excitement and tenants.
"We'll try our best. Whatever comes at the end of the day is its destiny," Kohan said.
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First-Responder Profiles: EMS Director Jen Weber
Jen Weber shows students some of the ambulance equipment.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The COVID-19 pandemic has perhaps brought the role of first-responders more to the forefront lately, but these men and women have regularly been serving their communities in numerous emergency situations.
This is a series profiling some of our local first-responders in partnership with Lee Bank to highlight the work they do every day — not just during a pandemic.
Emergency medical technician Jen Weber has been working in the health-care field for awhile but only recently became involved in emergency medicine. She attended Mount Anthony Union High School in Bennington, Vt., and now lives in Lanesborough. We talked to her about why she wanted to become an EMT.
QUESTION: How long have you been an EMT? What is your title?
Former Finance Committee member Michael P. Murphy easily ousted incumbent Hank Sayers, 295-156. Sayers has served on the board since winning a special election in 2013 to fill a vacant seat.
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