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Petricca Seeks to Garnish Mall's Income Over Unpaid Bills

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The owner of the Berkshire Mall still hasn't paid a quarter-million-dollar Superior Court judgment to Petricca Industries. Now Petricca wants to collect what it is owed from rent the stores pay.
Petricca has filed for a trustee process, which seeks to extricate the approximately $250,000 owed from the rents. The move would garnish the mall's income to pay the judgment — the money would go from the stores to Petricca instead of Berkshire Mall Realty Holdings.
Trustee summonses were issued to 19 stores at the mall calling on them to disclose "what goods, effects or credits, if any, of the defendant named above, are in your hands or possession at the time of the service summons upon you which may be taken on execution issued upon said judgment."
Four entities have responded to that summons,with two saying they would withhold rent until the court makes a judgment.
In an affidavit filed with the court, Solomon's Furniture said it would withhold paying some $5,000 worth of December's rent — for the store and for Toy Giant — and "wait until I am told what to do by the court." Foot Locker responded that its lease expires at the end of January 2018 and that it, too, will hold payments due to the Berkshire Mall "until otherwise directed, or permitted by law." 
Shoe Show, operating as the Shoe Dept., responded that it does not owe the owners anything right now, but that its rent is assessed on a percentage of the store's gross sales. Sears, which is leaving the mall in the next few weeks, asked for an amended summons correctly identifying Sears and Roebuck, instead of just Sears.
The order to summons was issued on Nov. 3 by Judge Michael Ripps. The issue dates back to last winter, when Petricca had entered an agreement to plow and remove snow from the Berkshire Mall parking lot. 
"On or around October 26, 2016, Berkshire Realty and PCC entered into an agreement concerning the provision of services at the Berkshire Mall. According to the agreement, Petricca Construction Company agreed to provide snow removal services as well as services incidental to snow removal, including salting, at a property operated by Berkshire Realty known as the Berkshire Mall," reads the docket filed in Berkshire Superior Court.
In March, Petricca filed a lawsuit saying Berkshire Mall Realty Holdings failed to pay the $237,491.37 owed. In May, the court ruled in Petricca's favor and in June an execution of judgment to retrieve $244,629.36 was issued — the total plus interest.
On Oct. 31, Petricca filed for the trustee process. A filing written by Michael MacDonald, general counsel for Petricca, claims there is no liability insurance available for Petricca to receive what is now up to $248,997.51 and that "there is a clear danger that the defendant, if notified in advance of the motion for approval of trustee process, will attempt to divert or conceal, or otherwise place out of reach the funds in the hands and possession of the trustee sought by this attachment."
The mall is owned by Kohan Retail Investment Group, which purchased it about a year ago. The company has been routinely behind on bills, including being late on fees and taxes owed to both the town of Lanesborough and the Baker Hill Road District. 
In recent years, the mall has lost nearly all of its anchors. Macy's, Best Buy, Sears, and J.C. Penney have all opted to vacate the property. Target and Regal Cinemas are both still there, but both also own their respective properties.
Kohan is known for buying distressed malls and has made the news all over the country relating to them. Just this week, Kohan nearly had the power shut off from a mall in the state of Florida because it owed some $210,000. 

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Lanesborough Select Board OKs Single Tax Rate

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Select Board on Monday voted to adopt a single tax rate that will mean the average homeowners' tax bill will go up by $107.
The tax rate will be $17 per $1,000 assessed value, down 67 cents from last year. 
This is the third year the rate has decreased but rising home values account for the increase in property taxes. On the other hand, the average commercial property tax bill will decrease by more than $400 due to devaluation.
Town Assessor Ross Vivori explained that over the last couple of years, people have been spending more on residential housing than commercial properties, which accounts for the discrepancy.
"They are overspending on residential," he said. "Whether that's all related to COVID, people moving from the cities to here, but that's driving that residential value up and you're just not seeing that on the commercial side so that's coming down and, of course, with the tax rate coming down, you're also seeing that being reflected in the commercial tax rate."
The average single-family home valued at $318,803 will have an annual tax bill of $5,420 in fiscal 2024. Last year, the average home was valued at $300,705 home and billed $5,313.
The average commercial property is valued at $525,450, a decrease from $528,697 in FY23, and will pay $8,933 in property taxes.
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