SCRANTON — The mall at the center of downtown Scranton was sold to its mortgage holder in a sheriff’s sale, an uncertain step forward for the Mall at Steamtown which went into foreclosure earlier this year.
Al Boscov, who was one of the primary owners of the Mall at Steamtown until Tuesday morning, told us it took $90 million to build this more than 20 years ago.
The mortgage holder took over the mortgage for the amount Boscov and the other owners still owed: $37.2 million. Now, the new owners can sell the mall privately.
Al Boscov, 84, sat in the back of a room at the Lackawanna County Courthouse and watched, as the mall he worked to build was sold at sheriff’s sale.
The mall’s mortgage owner bought the mall and now takes over what’s left on the mortgage: $37.2 million.
Boscov says he’s still negotiating with the mortgage owner to buy back the Mall at Steamtown in downtown Scranton where his department store is now the only anchor store.
“I think it’s in negotiations now so you never want to talk about where you’d like to go. We’d like to go to a place that will make the mall successful, that we can attract tenants, and that we can make it something we can all be proud of.”
The mall defaulted on a hefty lump sum payment last summer and went into foreclosure earlier this year. It’s been an uncertain few months for mall tenants like Addie Delsania who came to watch the sheriff’s sale. He hopes Boscov can buy the mall, get it back on firm footing, and sign leases even if they’re untraditional tenants.
“This can happen, with some service industries and service businesses, some doctor’s offices, an outpatient clinic.”
That may not be too off-base. Newswatch 16 spoke with a former mall employee who did not want to be identified. He says not long after mall owners defaulted on the mortgage, Lackawanna County commissioners came to see them with plans to move county offices into mall storefronts.
“It seemed to be a forgone conclusion. There were blueprints drawn up for the county to take over the entire second floor of the mall, including the second floor of the Bon Ton space and the food court.”
Lackawanna County Commissioner Jim Wansacz and Al Boscov confirmed with us that there were discussions about moving county offices into the Mall at Steamtown.
“Our idea is we want to save the mall. We’re going to try very, very hard to save the mall. Boscov’s will not leave no matter what happens,” Boscov said.
There was one other bidder, Scranton businessman Bob Bolus, who said he had plans to build a casino in the mall but his bid was considered illegal because it’s contingent on Bolus obtaining a gambling license. His bid was rejected.