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Al Boscov On The Future Of The Mall

SCRANTON — The Mall at Steamtown will remain open as it enters foreclosure.

Friday morning, the remaining merchants in the mall got to hear the future plans for the place from Al Boscov, the owner of the lone remaining anchor store.

Within the walls of his own store, he’s unmistakable.  Al Boscov took time to chat with shoppers at the department store in the Mall at Steamtown, reassuring them that Boscov’s will always be in Scranton and so will the mall.

The CEO of Boscov’s department stores was instrumental in developing the Mall at Steamtown more than 20 years ago. Now he and other mall owners face a difficult time. On Friday, the mall was forced into foreclosure.

“Sure, it’s emotional, you put so many years in trying to create something you don’t want to see it disappear for no reason. In this case, the ownership of the mall doesn’t have faith, but we do,” Boscov said.

Boscov says he will bid for the mall when it goes to auction at a sheriff’s sale later this year.

The mall’s mortgage holder filed a foreclosure complaint in Lackawanna County court Friday saying that in July mall owners defaulted on a $41 million loan.

Boscov says his store is the best performing store at the mall at Steamtown. It’s even one of the best performing Boscov stores.  That’s why he says he’s interested in buying the mall so he can stay in this market.

“We hope that others will bid for it. for Example, if Simon which is the largest mall owner in the country wants to bid for it, we would be love to have them because they could lease it even faster.”

Boscov says after the sheriff’s sale, the Mall at Steamtown can refinance its debt and hopefully get an owner that can invest more money into the mall to draw in more tenants.

Boscov says there’s no new anchor store lined up to replace the Bon Ton and it will likely be months until they can start looking for one again.

“We got active in talking to people, but you have no one until you’re out of this and you can make a deal and so forth.  We don’t have the ability to do that.”

13 comments

  • Jflynn

    How does a mall go bankrupt in just 20 years from its inception? I remember they had more of a variety of stores than the smaller viewmont mall. Where is everyone in scranton and the surrounding suburbs/ rural areas shopping these days? I hear negative comments about bad areas of the city, but every town has them; did crime and hoods “hanging out” get that bad near the mall?

      • steveng

        Shirley, you make it sound like it is so easy to attract a casino. First of all, you have to get state approval to establish a casino in Pa and that is a long and arduous process. Secondly, the state is trying to limit the amount of casinos in the state. There are only 13 casinos that are spread throughout PA. If there was one in every PA city/region, that would dilute the gambling industry in PA and most of them would not be profitable. There are already two within an hour’s drive of Scranton (Mohegan Sun & Pocono Downs) and one a little over an hour away (Sands). So it is unlikely, barring a major population influx, that NE PA will get another casino any time soon.

  • P M Van Hook

    The Mall at Steamtown needs to bring in stores that are not also at Viewmont and Wyoming Valley Malls. Because of its location, the Mall at Steamtown is the most difficult to get to for people outside of the city. They need some really special things to make it worth the effort for people. And they need to also attract some popular urban stores as well. Villa (a sneaker and urban clothing store) for example would do extremely well and attract a lot of business. They also either need to revamp the food court or get rid of it altogether. Make it an interactive play area for kids that would attract parents and their children, especially during the winter and on rainy days the rest of the year.

    As for the former Bon-Ton location, they need to do one of two things to make it work. Go with the route I suggested for the other stores and get something in there that is really unique (Cabela’s or Whole Foods as a lot of people have been begging for), or bring something in that features very affordable clothing and household items (like a Burlington Coat Factory or something akin to the now-defunct Value City). Throwing another typical department store in there will only result in the same situation that has just happened…it will be there for a few years and then disappear.

    Another thing that really needs to be dealt with is the former Globe bridge. That whole wing is just depressing. You can’t have ANY depressing locations in a mall. I could see a Dave & Buster’s doing very well in there, and that would make that wing more exciting and help businesses like the barber shop that are located there.

    It’s all ultimately about excitement, unique stores, and a more urban feel than either Viewmont or Wyoming Valley offer. If they can bring these elements together, I foresee the Mall at Steamtown coming back to life. But if they just go down the same old road with the same stores every other mall has, another dime-a-dozen department store, and no effort to fix the depressing food court and Globe bridge wing, then the Mall’s fate is sealed.

    • Cleo

      You really need to wake up, you are dreaming. Cabelas or Whole foods would never move there. It’s dead, that’s how it is in NEPA. Until a corrupt local person takes it over and swindles our taxpayer money to their pocket, it is dead.

    • Nichole

      It would be GREAT to have a Dave & Busters here, Also that would be a great store to have and that isn’t a bad idea, would be IKEA. The city of Scranton also needs to buck up and get rid of the riff raff there.. I worked in that mall. I saw in broad daylight drug deals. Right in front of security, and NOTHING was done. I got tired of call the security/police for them NOT to show up or do anything about it. I’d also like to see an ice skating rink like they have out in Dallas Texas. Here are some ideas for them to make improvements but yet I’m sure they will NEVER go with these :-(

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