OKAY, WE’RE ALL excited. Finally someone has bought the dying Westwood Mall!
Well, we might want to take a moment to tap the brakes. Just a bit.
Kohan Retail Investment Group, which just bought the main part of the mall–not the Kohl’s property–has been on a buying frenzy nationwide in recent years. The group, out of Great Neck, New York, now owns 30 malls, according to owner Michael Kohan. Mostly low rent, distressed properties.
The Westwood Mall is just the latest. “I believe in the potential of that mall,” Kohan says. “It has great potential. We’re going to make some improvements. I’m already getting calls from stores about the mall.”
Sounds good. But then you check with newspapers around the nation over the last few years, and you find that the Kohan Group has a…umm…checkered history.
A few examples:
Village Square Mall, Effingham, Illinois...”The city council…was forced to apply legal pressure to the Kohan Group to take the necessary steps to fix leaky roofs and and damaged ceiling tiles…”
The Southbridge Mall, Mason City, Iowa…”The Kohan Group spent more than $46 million in 2018 acquiring new properties in other cities while repeatedly failing to pay taxes for its north Iowa property.”
Northland Mall, Worthington, Minnesota…”The local CBS television affiliate reported…that the mall looked more like a construction site than a shopping center with a leaky roof, buckets lined up on the floor and caution tape blocking off some areas.”
Lincoln Mall, Matteson, Illinois…”Officials have tried to get (the mall) boarded up over safety violations, then put the property into receivership, with an order that the owner pay for repairs.”
Woodville Mall, Northwood, Ohio…”Northwood officials and county inspectors found numerous problems, including large holes and collapsed areas in the roof, water leaking into public and nonpublic areas of the mall, a partially nonfunctioning fire suppression system and alarm system, no heat because of unpaid gas bills, and pervasive mold and mildew…”
Just a sampling. There have been other problems at the Kohan malls but to be fair, there apparently have been successes, as well.
“Everybody’s critical,” Kohan says when asked about the problems and the bad press. “I’m not perfect but I’m doing my best.”
Why might he succeed at Westwood Mall when the previous owner failed? Kohan says he can get things done more quickly and efficiently because he is one person making the important decisions; he doesn’t need a group of people to sign off on those decisions.
You wanna believe him. You wanna believe he’s going to truly invest in the mall and revive it. You wanna believe this wasn’t just a bargain basement sale of a distressed property by an owner eager to make a buck.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed.