Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

JUNE 2016 FLOODS ; Bankruptcy Halts Sale of Marooned Mall; Elkview Shopping Center Cut off from Employees, Patrons since Culvert Bridge Was Washed Away

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

JUNE 2016 FLOODS ; Bankruptcy Halts Sale of Marooned Mall; Elkview Shopping Center Cut off from Employees, Patrons since Culvert Bridge Was Washed Away

Article excerpt

A last-minute bankruptcy filing on Tuesday has once again left the future of Elkview's Crossings Mall shopping center in limbo. Twenty minutes before a scheduled trustee's sale to sell the Crossings Mall property, counsel for the mall owners filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in West Virginia's Northern District.

The move not only canceled the trustee's sale, but likely also will further delay construction of a new bridge to access the shopping plaza.

According to bankruptcy documents, the single-asset company has between one and 50 creditors - the most prominent being U.S. Bank Association, which filed a federal lawsuit against Tara Retail Group late last year for defaulting on a $13.6 million loan.

The default occurred because the shopping center no longer could generate revenue through rent after the June 2016 floods wiped out the only access to the mall.

Bankruptcy documents show that the company's estimated assets range between $10 million and $50 million, as do its estimated liabilities.

Tara Retail Group, which is owned by Bill Abruzzino, is being represented by attorney Steven Thomas, of Kay Casto & Chaney. Calls to Thomas were not returned Tuesday.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper issued a news release, criticizing the latest move by the company.

"While I appreciate that all businesses have the right to protect their businesses, I find Tara Retail's conduct to be utterly despicable, Carper said. "I hope their untimely gamesmanship does not cause yet another extensive delay in building this badly-needed bridge to the mall.

The bankruptcy filing came as no surprise to Martin Perry, a managing director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank's Pittsburgh office, who was appointed as receiver of Crossings Mall by U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston in December.

While the process to reopen the shopping center seemed to be making progress earlier this month, Perry said he and lawyers for U.S. Bank were told by Tara Retail's counsel that it planned to file for bankruptcy.

"We became more focused on minimizing delays [and] were hesitant to execute contracts to move forward [with the new bridge] because we weren't sure how the bankruptcy court would view those, Perry said. …

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