Mall owner misses tax deadline: town poised to begin tax title process

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LANESBOROUGH — The hour of 1 p.m. passed Wednesday with no property tax payment from the Berkshire Mall, pushing the owner a step closer to losing the property.

Jodi Hollingsworth, tax collector for Lanesborough and the Baker Hill Road District, said Wednesday the missed deadline means the mall will join the list of properties in "tax title" for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

That status is a step toward having a court transfer ownership to a municipality for failure to pay property taxes.

"I have not heard a word," Hollingsworth said of the mall's owner.

The mall, which had only four remaining retailers, closed in late May. Regal Cinemas and Target, which own their own spaces, remain open.

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Berkshire Mall Realty Holding owes the town and district $921,824.25 for taxes dating back to July 1.

Both entities levy taxes on the mall's seven parcels.

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Last year, the company paid $942,000 for fiscal year 2018 at the last minute, preventing the town and district from taking the steps they are now free to pursue.

Companies controlled by the Berkshire Mall's owner, Mehran Kohansieh, have failed to pay property taxes in jurisdictions around the country. The Kohan Retail Investment Group lists 26 mall properties around the country, the bulk of them in the East and Midwest.

Kohansieh, who also goes by Mike Kohan, did not respond to questions Monday from The Eagle about his business practices.

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Those practices are the subject of the newspaper's ongoing "Mall Stall" series. This week, interviews with county tax officials in southern Illinois found that Village Square Mall Realty Management LLC, a Kohan-controlled entity that owns a mall in Effingham, Ill., had been late to pay taxes for four years, but eventually settled the debt.

The amounts owed by the Berkshire Mall's holding company are listed in 14 separate tax documents. All but 12 of the tax bills are for hundreds or several thousand dollars.

But on Parcel 248-15, the holding company, controlled by Mehran Kohansieh, owes the town $387,107.34, including interest and a demand fee. For that same 655 Cheshire Road parcel, the mall's owner owes the Baker Hill Road District $522,070.75, according to bills reviewed by The Eagle. Of that sum, $21,085.86 is for interest.

The parcel contains the physical structures on the mall property, measuring 3,755,394 square feet, on part of 86 acres. The parcel has an assessed value of $16,071,700.

Larry Parnass can be reached at, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.


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