|Snowplowers Take Mall to Court for Second Consecutive Year |
|Staff Reports, |
02:13AM / Monday, July 09, 2018
|The Berkshire Mall has been struggling after losing most of its anchor stores.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In back-to-back years, the Berkshire Mall has been taken to court for not paying snowplowing contracts.
M. Ostrander LLC successfully sued Berkshire Mall Realty Holdings for $77,840 after the mall paid only a portion of the amount due to the company. The suit names both Berkshire Mall Realty Holdings and owner Mehran Kohansieh (Mike Kohan).
Ostrander and the mall had entered an agreement on Dec. 5, 2017. The two-year deal outlined the costs for labor and supplies and required invoices to be paid within 30 days or an interest rate of a half of a percent per month would accumulate.
"Since the execution of the agreement on various and diverse dates MOL has provided snow removal services to the Berkshire Mall in compliance with the agreement, either as a result of the accumulation of natural snowfall or at the request of the Berkshire Mall," the complaint in Superior Court reads.
"MOL has provided invoices to the Berkshire Mall for those snow removal services. The total amount owed to MOL, calculated in accordance with the terms of the agreement, and billed to the Berkshire Mall for those snow removal services was $163,340."
Throughout the winter, Ostrander, represented by attorney Mark Siegars, said the mall had made various payments, either through credit or wire transfers, to the tune of $53,000.
"The Berkshire Mall has also made an unauthorized payment to one of MOL's subcontractors in the amount of $32,000. Several of the invoices submitted to the Berkshire Mall remain unpaid so that the Berkshire Mall has an outstanding balance due to MOL in the amount of $77,840," the lawsuit reads.
Ostrander LLC filed a lengthy history of phone call records and e-mails to the mall requesting payment.
The lawsuit also claims that "during the week of May 20, 2018, Berkshire Mall Realty Holding LLC and Mike Kohan 'bounced' the payroll for the entire staff at the Berkshire Mall."
The case marks back-to-back springs when companies contracted for snowplowing have had to fight in court over unpaid bills. Last year, Petricca Construction filed a suit against the mall for approximately $240,000 worth of unpaid snow plowing bills.
Those civil cases pile onto a number of smaller cases. UG2 LLC and Maintenance Man Inc. had both successfully sued the Berkshire Mall over unpaid bills.
The Berkshire Mall has lost power at least three times in the last six months and neither the mall nor the utility will say if that was the result of unpaid bills. That was the case at the Rotterdam Square Mall in upstate New York when the utility company cut power there during the time Kohan Retail Investment Group owned it in 2015.
Ownership has also struggled to keep up with taxes. Routinely the company falls behind and on multiple occasions, the town has issued notices of the tax taking process. However, each time Kohan makes a payment avoiding any liens being placed on the property.
The trends at the Berkshire Mall mirror other malls Kohan owns.
In 2011, a court ruled that the Woodville Mall in Northwood, Ohio, then owned by Kohan, was to be demolished because the mall had fallen into disrepair and posed a public safety hazard. The Lincoln Mall in Illinois faced the wrecking ball, stemming from the village of Matteson suing Kohan for failing to resolve dangerous conditions.
Kohan owed back taxes for the Orchards Mall in Michigan, as it was on the brink of foreclosure. A mall he owns in North Carolina, the Mayberry Mall, had a store deemed "unsafe" because of water damage after the roof failed.
Despite the pile-up of bills, Kohan Retail Investment continues to buy malls. Last week, Kohan Retail Investment Group purchased the Midland Mall in Michigan.
In recent years, the company bought the Indian River Mall in Florida; the Great Northern Mall in New York; the Virginia Center Commons; the Richmond Town Square Mall in Ohio; the Southbridge Mall in Iowa; and Washington Crown Center in Pennsylvania.
Kohan's specialty is buying distressed malls and he bought the Berkshire Mall for $3.5 million in September.