Berkshire Mall set to reopen after shutdown extends another day

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LANESBOROUGH — The Berkshire Mall's status? It's complicated.

The complex remained closed Tuesday, but its owner, who lives on Long Island, insisted it was open. A post on the mall's Facebook page stated management "was pushing" to have the mall open by Wednesday.

Berkshire County's largest retail shopping complex has been closed since last Thursday due to a power outage.

"We are not closed forever!" the post stated. "We are not being shut down by the sheriff! We have not been seized by the government! We are pushing to reopen by Wednesday. If that changes we will update."

The power outage that occurred last week has affected the different elements that management needs to maintain the mall, according to the post.

"In order to ensure our employees and customers safety, we need to resolve these issues before we can reopen. This is the reason we have not reopened the mall," it stated.

On Tuesday afternoon, Michael Kohan, the principal of mall owner Berkshire Mall Realty Holdings LLC, insisted that the 720,000-square-foot retail complex was open when contacted by The Eagle, adding that the issues that had caused the power outage to occur had been resolved Tuesday morning.

When told the mall was still closed Tuesday and that the complex's Facebook page also indicated that it was, Kohan told a reporter that he would call him back. Jim Ruiz, the mall's general manager, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

The weeklong power outage has affected water pressure throughout the entire shopping complex, which also includes two businesses that are independent from the mall's ownership group, Target and Regal Cinemas. Those businesses have remained open.

At Monday night's Lanesborough Select Board meeting, Chairman John Goerlach said a booster pump was needed to supply the proper water pressure throughout the entire structure. The mall's backup generator was working at times on Monday, but not enough to provide adequate service, he said.

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Target and Regal Cinemas had running water on Tuesday. Both businesses are located at the north end of the mall. Water was being pumped into the 10-theater cinema complex through a generator at the mall that has a water pump, an employee said. The employee said the cinema complex lost water power briefly last Wednesday, but that the service had been restored by 3 p.m. that day.

"We're holding our own here," she said, when asked if the power outage had affected the cinema's operations.

Portable toilets have been placed outside the main entrance to the Target store.

A local store manager referred comments to Target's corporate headquarters, which returned a call from The Eagle, but was not able to comment by 5 p.m. about how the intermittent water service has affected store operations.

Berkshire Mall Realty Holdings is under court order to pay Lanesborough's Baker Hill Road District a total of $298,146 in back taxes, accrued interest and court costs dating back to Aug. 1. The road district has legal jurisdiction over the mall's property.

The road district sued Berkshire Mall Realty Holdings in Berkshire Superior Court in December to collect what it's owed, and the court agreed to attach a debt of $276,000 to the mall's property. Mall ownership has missed the first three quarterly tax payments to the road district for fiscal 2019, which began July 1. Berkshire Mall Realty Holdings has owned the 30-year-old shopping complex since 2016.

On March 13, Berkshire Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini issued a "writ of execution," a court order granted to begin the transfer of assets, money or property as the result of a legal judgement, against Berkshire Mall Realty Holdings for $298,146. The filing of a writ of execution is the first step in the transfer process.

When a court issues a writ of execution, a local sheriff is usually charged with taking possession of property that is owed to the plaintiff. If the property owed is money, the account can be frozen or moved into a holding account.

"We have not been given any execution by any lien holder to seize any assets from the Berkshire Mall," a spokeswoman for the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office said on Tuesday.

Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6224.


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