Schuylkill Mall Owner Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

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NEW CASTLE TOWNSHIP -- The future of the Schuylkill Mall near Frackville is uncertain now that the property is in chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 means you must sell off assets to pay creditors.

The Schuylkill Mall was actually set to go up for auction at a sheriff's sale Wednesday morning, but that was halted by the last-minute filing of chapter 7 bankruptcy.

An attorney for the mall's current owner says filing for chapter 7 was in part a move to buy the mall some time.

It's been no secret that the Schuylkill Mall has been struggling.

"I didn't even know that was really even open anymore," said Casey Ezbell of Freemansburg.

Ezbell was surprised the mall has been able to stay afloat, especially after years of dealing with big box stores backing out.

Several months ago, it was discovered the mall was underwater. The owner, Empire Schuylkill L.P., was about $30 million in debt.

"How much money are they going to keep putting into it? Like, nobody goes there. I think they should just let it go," Ezbell said.

The mall was set to go up for auction at a sheriff's sale, but just two days before, the owner filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy. That move took it out of the sheriff's sale and into the hands of a trustee who will have at least 90 days to find someone interested in buying the mall, otherwise the assets will be sold off.

"There is hope for the mall, I think, but it's beyond me to suggest what the economy hopes for the mall," said Jack Kubert of Mahanoy City.

There are still about 40 businesses operating inside the mall. Many of them are trying to figure out what they are going to do during this uncertain time. We spoke to some of the smaller businesses that say they will stay at least through the holidays. After that, they will decide if it's best to stick it out or to go.

"I just hope it would stay open somehow," said Jolene Kenneff of Ashland.

For Kenneff, the mall holds a lot of memories. She remembers going to the movie theaters there when it was only $2. She's hoping someway, somehow, someone saves the place.

"If I won the lottery, which I am not going to, I would donate it," said Kenneff.

While the Schuylkill Mall is under a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing--for these next 90 days at least--businesses are expected to operate as usual. Beyond that is still a big question mark.

8 comments

  • tomtom

    happened 3 years ago and nothing but river dredging was done. when you are on an interstate make sure you can east or west. NOT north or south. Man…what stupidity.

  • Gerald Filtz

    How is it possible that the Schuylkill Mall is having tough times. President Obama says the economy is doing well, and that there are jobs aplenty. Hillary Clinton says that as president she will keep the good times going! So these mall owners are obviously not telling the truth. They are just another rich corporate interest fleecing the local population.
    [End Sarcasm]

  • Truth Seeker

    if decent stores would come into the mall people would shop there instead of running an hour any direction to get to stores. Lower the rent and give the merchants a chance. Poor management is what took this place down!

  • sam

    What will happen with the movie theatre? It’s nice and allot of money was put into it. Does he actually own that section of the mall making it separate or will it close up with rest of the mall.

    • goose

      They should have pluralized the word “owner”. It is an investment group, and sadly when they file for chapter 7, most rarely make it out of the process without a wrecking ball involved eventually. A quick search says that it can be re-purposed to be a prison. Another brought up a guy by the name of Dan Bell that did a tour of the mall and a lot of other malls in the NE USA area that are also in sad shape. There goes a great part of Americana. Try to shop local. The future inmates will probably enjoy the movie theatre though.

    • SteveG

      This mall was in trouble long before Obama was in office. I’m amazed it stayed open this long. I remember going there back in 2000 and wondering how any of the stores are profitable.

    • goose

      Jeff is right. The rising costs of everything for the little guys and huge tax breaks for major companies like Wal Mart have decimated small communities all over our country. Internet shopping and the entitlement state of mind doesn’t help, but it would be 1/5 of what it is now. Mis-management to try to make a profit by jacking up the rents by these big groups of investors that have barely any regulation and have never set foot in a place that they own is an all too common story across the country, let alone the state. If you like ghost towns and destruction, I guess you like being ignorant of the policies that create them? I never thought I’d vote for who I’m voting for, but after a strict analysis to make sure he wasn’t just “controlled opposition” like Barry and Bernie. He is legit. Just a horrible wordsmith, which, I don’t know any perfect people in this world. Smart people would buy properties in areas like that place with industrial style layouts if he gets in. It would be pretty easy to re-value lost areas like those that once served the coal industry if the jobs came back and the infrastructure was modernized. It just takes a concerted effort to bring back the value of vocational skill sets, instead of depending on a handout. Ever play the game Monopoly? Bill Clinton’s deregulation of the banks, trade and the media made this depressed world possible. I respect everybody’s opinion, but these things are very evident every time I look around and try to find out why. Search Trey Gowdy’s speech to Congress about Barry making his own rules if you want to hear a true American speak with passion. Best of luck

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