Clay, N.Y. -- A Long Island company that says it specializes in turning around troubled malls has acquired the Great Northern Mall in Clay.
Mike Kohan, owner of Kohan Real Estate Investment Group, of Great Neck, said his firm bought the mall today.
`Yes, we have acquired it,` he said. `We hope to get new tenants in.`
Terms of the sale were not immediately disclosed.
Great Northern has seen numerous stores leave in recent years. One of its anchor tenants, Macy`s, recently announced that it will close its store at the mall on April 18.
Kohan`s company owns 20 malls throughout the country. The closest to Great Northern that is listed on his website is the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough in western Massachusetts. Kohan said he specializes in buying troubled malls and turning them around by bringing in new tenants to fill empty storefronts.
`We buy malls when we see opportunities,` he said. `They call us.`
C-III Asset Management, a Texas-based special loan servicer, took over the mall in 2015 after its previous owner, California-based Macerich, defaulted on a $35 million loan payment. The mall was being managed for C-III by Spinoso Real Estate Group, of North Syracuse.
Many malls around the country are hurting as online retailers take customers away from them. But Kohan said Great Northern is in an excellent location at the northeast corner of Route 31 and Interstate 481, 12 miles north of Syracuse.
`There`s no reason the mall has to be in the shape that it is,` he said. `You come off the highway and you`re right there.`
Though the mall faces an `uphill challenge,` he said he was confident of turning it around.
`You just have to have hope, patience, ideas and a strategy,` he said. `You have to work with tenants and accommodate them. I will reach out. I will be part of the shoppers, part of the merchants, part of the vendors.`
Kohan`s website gives a hint at the strategy he may deploy at Great Northern to fill its empty spaces.
`Malls are evolving, and as time goes on they are no longer just a tent to house box stores and chains, but are home to more local small- and medium-sized businesses of all stripes,` the website says. `Large spaces offer opportunity for fundraising events, festivals, farmers markets, miniature golf, dancing, concerts, banquets, theatre, and virtually any social gathering all under one roof with protection from the elements.`
The (Albany) Times Union reported in 2014 that Kohan, who also goes by the name Mehran Kohansiek, has a history of controversy and legal trouble at some of his properties. Kohan told the newspaper that the problems resulted from the fact that he buys troubled malls that face significant challenges.
`I am buying distressed malls, malls that have litigation, malls are in bad shape,` he told the Times Union. `There are some projects we can turn around. Some we can`t.`
One of the malls that had problems during Kohan`s ownership was the Rotterdam Square Mall near Schenectady. In 2015, National Grid shut off power to portions of the mall because of an outstanding electric bill. Kohan has since sold that mall.