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Mall at Steamtown Going into Foreclosure

SCRANTON —  The Mall at Steamtown is heading into foreclosure. But those who run the big shopping center in downtown Scranton said it is an effort to save the place, not shut it down.

Thursday morning the mall’s general manager told Newswatch 16 about the plan to foreclose since the mall has defaulted on some of its debt. Mall management thinks it’s the best option to keep the mall open.

Officials with The Mall at Steamtown said it will be business as usual while the downtown Scranton mall heads into foreclosure.

But since one of its anchor stores, The Bon-Ton, pulled out back in January business as usual hasn’t been good according to employees at the mall.

“There’s a lot of competition here, we have four malls around our area. I think we need an Ikea here or something bigger to actually bring businesses around this area. Because if it does continue like this I think Steamtown mall will be history,” said mall employee Eddie Nieves.

Mall employees like Nieves said since The Bon-Ton closed, business for the whole mall has slowed down. There’s long been speculation about what new anchor store mall officials have in mind to fill the vacant spot.

General manager Clarence Banks said the mall’s financial situation is one of the reasons it’s taken so long to hear what the new store will be. He said the foreclosure process will allow the mall the refinance debt, similar to refinancing a mortgage on your home.

“Restructuring will give us a great opportunity to have really great competitive rates, rents and leases for our tenants. It also gives us an opportunity to attract newer tenants to this mall,” Banks said.

Banks said a lot hangs on who fills the old Bon-Ton store front. He said they have a new tenant in mind but they can’t announce it until the foreclosure process is done and that could be a few months.

Mall officials wouldn’t say how much debt they’re in. They did say defaulting on some of the debt and foreclosing was the best option to keep the mall running and get a much-needed anchor store to sign a lease.

Customers agree that announcement is the one that will really decide the mall’s fate.

“I think they actually need to bring in a store that’s really good otherwise this place is going to close. Nobody comes here anymore, it’s not a big wow factor. All the stores are leaving,” said Julia Nordone of Dickson City.

But will the foreclosure process deter new stores from coming?

The C.E.O. of Fidelity Bank Dan Santaniello doesn’t think so. He thinks The Mall at Steamtown will not be handed over to the bank. The priority, Santaniello thinks, is to get mall officials back to paying the bills.

“Chances are they’re not looking to go to the finish line with the foreclosure process. What they’re really looking to do is restructure the overall debt and make it profitable for the property owner, which would be Boscov or one of his entities,” Santaniello said.

Santaniello added he’s never seen such a large entity like The Mall at Steamtown go into foreclosure before. But he thinks it could turn the mall around.

Newswatch 16 talked to some store owners inside the mall Thursday afternoon. They said before making any judgements on the mall’s financial situation, they’re waiting to hear from one of the owners Al Boscov himself. He’s planned a meeting with all the mall’s tenants for Friday morning.

21 comments

  • Laura Andruk

    Its discouraging to see how many people are ready to give up on Scranton. This city can be turned around. it really isnt that bad in comparison to other cities. The mall has hit upon hard times and alot of empty stores since the opening of the shops at montage. Alot of businesses are transferring their sites up there due to the amount of business that those shops are generating. People need to get proud again and they need to work on things. I think some of the main focuses should be south side and the hill section. Rebuilding those parts of the city and getting the riff raffs out of them would be a huge benefit for Scranton. As for Steamtown, I dont know if they will be able to save it with the current economy of the city. Lets hope so, we cant let this city continue to stay in this downward spiral.

  • Stephen R. Yanick

    First of all they should get rid of there security people, all they do is walk around and do nothing and as soon as they see kids or gangs otherwise troble makers they run the other way. Look at Viewmont, no troble up there, thats why everybody likes going up there, its safer, I myself seen this happen and I said im out of here! , If I was incharge of the security this crap would never have happend,

  • Tony

    Look at all you losers. Piling on the city….the people trying to save the mall…and hoping people lose their jobs. You’re all part of the problem…part of the reason Scranton can’t move fwd…morons.

    • E

      Tony the problem with the city isn’t people posting comments it’s the past several generations of alcoholic Scranton locals who have driven out all of the decent people, leaving room for the undesirables to move into the area. I’m sure you remember the housing market collapsing. As soon as lending standards were lowered, prior to the collapse, those who were previously unable to get a loan left Scranton as fast as they could. Not long after there was a surge of people relocating there from out of state to fill those gaps. My point is the “proud Scranton locals” are the ones who created a horrible environment that no decent person is going to accept unless desperate. That is the reason I moved and exactly why all others I know have moved as well. Scranton locals created that hostile, dysfunctional, unlivable area long ago and now they seem to be upset about having to deal with it, as if it’s not their fault. I could point fingers and name plenty of names but that isn’t allowed on this site.

  • trish

    scranton and surrounding school districts should abolish their school uniform policies. “the place where families shop” should be reserved for the uniform stores that seem to do quite well.

  • Terry Jean

    They are full of it. They were “close to announcing” the new anchor in January – now not until May – what a joke. Management should be fired immediately.

    This is all too little to late – last one out please remember to turn off the lights.

      • Dan Brennan

        Contrary to popular belief, Scranton is not completely lousy with drug dealers and criminals, and I challenge anyone to provide an example of a city in NEPA that doesn’t have its share of them. Scranton is just more visible than the others.

        There is a growing population of young professionals who live in the city. Those apartments and condos you scoffed at are actually thriving. The new apartment buildings in the city center are full and provide a steady customer base for the small businesses within a few blocks of the courthouse square. The small restaurants, shops and galleries bring people downtown, not the mall. I see it every day. The city should focus on bringing in smaller businesses that attract young, independent people of varying talents. That’s what works; the mall doesn’t and never really has.

        The Hill and South Side are big sections of the city, and only certain parts are “bad.” Then again, some people count immigrants as “riff-raff,” so it’s difficult to tell what people are really complaining about when they say we need to clean up the city. Sadly, bigotry and prejudice have been persistent voices in Scranton public discourse since the city’s inception.

        Bottom line: There are good things to be said about Scranton, and it can bounce back. However, it will never be the city that people want it to be, because people want it to be a smaller, cleaner version of Manhattan or Philadelphia. Those of us who live here and want to see the city thrive understand that. Those who had a bad experience here and left, have no place making empty, denigrating comments that serve no other purpose than to inflate their own egos. Get a hobby.

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