Woodland Mall plans to work through foreclosure case PDF Print E-mail
Written by By BILL RYAN/Sentinel Staff Writer   
Wednesday, 15 July 2009 17:33
The U.S. Bank National Association filed a foreclosure action last week in Wood County Common Pleas Court against the owners of the Woodland Mall, 1234 N. Main in Bowling Green.
According to court documents, the bank which was listed as the trustee for the mortgage’s holding company, is seeking foreclosure on the property due to mortgage payments not being made since Feb. 8 of this year.
The court filing states nearly $8.8 million dollars was owed on the promissory note as of May 31, 2009. With penalties, interest and other related charges, the civil suit seeks $11.1 million in lieu of the foreclosure.
However mall officials and some tenants stress this is not the demise of the mall.
An employee at the mall’s management company declined to be quoted and referred all calls to their attorney, Alan Statman. However, she indicated the owners have no intention of closing or losing ownership of the mall.
Several other people referred calls to Statman. His office in Cincinnati indicated Statman was out but would be checking messages.  He had not returned the call as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Michelle Barton, field coordinator, at the Woodland Mall office, indicated people should understand the foreclosure filing does not mean the case is closed. Rather, she says it is just the first step in proceedings for the bank to obtain its money.
“The foreclosure is not a done deal,” Barton stated. “We are very optimistic we can get beyond this through a negotiated settlement with the bank.”
She noted the mall is in the process of obtaining additional tenants. She indicated the mall recently signed a rental agreement with the U.S. Census Bureau for space to conduct the 2010 census. Barton estimates the office will bring 200 people per day to the mall.
Barton also noted several of the businesses in the facility,  which she said are doing very good business and bringing foot traffic to the facility.
“This is just a bump in the road, we’ll get through it,” Barton said. “We’re very positive about the mall.”
Since the mall was built it has had several different owners. Aside from standard retail stores, the mall is currently or previously been home to other types of operations including churches, a dance studio, The Black Swamp Players, a women’s fitness center, an indoor recreation center for skateboarders and the Humane Society.
The mall’s Web site lists 31 tenants and nine vacant storefronts, including one of three anchors, the former home of Steve & Barry’s which closed all of its stores in bankruptcy. Those figures correspond with Barton’s estimate of roughly 75 percent occupancy.
Faliha Al-Jiboury, a co-owner with her husband Abud “Chris.” of two businesses in the mall, was surprised to learn of the foreclosure.
“We do not want the mall to close. This is how we make our living,” Al-Jiboury said.
She operates The China in the food court as well as Mattresses for Less.
Several mall officials or business owners noted the family atmosphere and safe environment at the retail center.
Julie Setzer, operator of Julie’s Dance Studio has operated from the mall for more than four years.
“It was the best move I ever did,” she said noting she wishes she had moved sooner.
Boasting more then 300 students, she said some may only take one class a week; while others may be there for up to six classes on a regular basis.
“I’m very excited about this mall,” she said. “It saddens me that people are focusing on the negative. That could potentially hurt people if they think we are closing.”
Setzer volunteered she believes the owners may be behind because “they probably overpaid for the mall.”
Though she claims she does not know how it will work, but it is her understanding the mall owners are looking to refinance the loan.
“Honestly, I can’t see the doors closing,” she said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 18:06

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