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WILK News Radio>Audio & Video on Demand>>John Topa, Steamtown Mall director of marketing & specialty leasing talks to Corbett

John Topa, Steamtown Mall director of marketing & specialty leasing talks to Corbett

Mar 7, 2014|

John Topa, Steamtown Mall director of marketing & specialty leasing talks to Corbett about the foreclosure of the mall and what it means.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

What are people talking with many questions that have arisen about. What's next door or how did this happen -- where do we go from here. John is kind enough to sit with us and talk a little bad. About how we got to where we are and where we do go from here John -- good to -- to good to see you today thinks -- have really -- absolutely no. What happened then and tell people in in basic terminology. What's going. Here well basically arm to the mall has a mortgage with that and the note came do and they couldn't make the payment on the notes. Can they try to exercise every last possibility to try to salvage what they had. They weren't successful. And right now all the way the smallest and situated. It it doesn't work in its present operation and their needs to be restructuring of the debt to make tomorrow profitable again so that we can prosper. -- -- Right now we're kind of treading water -- com. You know -- yearning work in the meantime but you know basically. If there has to be restructuring the debt in order from the mall to prosper in the future. So how does that happened as a judge do that this is going to court hearing how always the debt restructure them well. He is the mall has been working with these lien holder and been very cooperative with them. I'm -- -- knows the situation. The mall. Went into foreclosure arm didn't fight it they would they went and -- so every -- is an agreement. They think it's the best thing for the mall. That either mr. Bosco. -- purchases at sheriff's sale or possibly someone else -- -- but basically. The way it's structured right now we needed to be profitable in order to continue doing business. When you talk about the mall working with a lien holder for people who don't understand this are kind of terminology. What usually holder and who has the -- different arm does lien holder. -- I don't believe based out of Miami Florida I think that there's initials I don't know exactly the name of the green older but. You know basically. There are cooperating with the mortgage company. -- need to try to facilitate this and not drag it out foreclosure can. You know being dragged on for months possibly years. But all officials have been working with the lien holder to try to expedite the process. So we're not in limbo for very long time they want there was some sort of closure whether. The mall officials will regain ownership and restructure the debt or someone else. It takes ownership on the one or the other that they want to expedite the process they don't want it to be stretched out for very long term. So you have the owners of the mall they get a mortgage and then the mortgages held by the -- older crowd. Work -- it exactly. You know they got that mortgage years back and his problem and sold Bruno bunch of times so. I come to those -- Moscow has drawn nosy partners in it there's two other partners arm without. His towel and to go purchased the property shares sell it would be under. Under himself under his company. And then that way if you purchase the mall and I'll share price then give everything would. He did you be able to have money to put back in the mall to maybe remodel or or what have you but you're right now we're maintaining the mall. There's. The way it is set up right now is that if we want to you free up cash -- so we can reinvest in the mall. This is the only way we can logically do -- at this point. So so all must problem -- I'm asking -- like they say they might sound like not you've questions. Most of us don't really understand financial transactions ownership shallow -- -- had in the above. I'll boscov's is one of three owners is that. Proper to say he here he is in a partnership with other people he you know he is one of and the owners of its -- the other two owners. Are not going to pursue. Trying to -- that sheriff -- and they individuals. -- -- individuals I don't have their names with being -- com this kind of came to there was no reason for me didn't even know this stuff -- people dared to go but I understand but basically. I'm Al has a vested interest in. The mall -- he is boscov's Sharon. Sure so the other two the other two owners have expressed. -- this interest in pursuing this further how is the only one who still is interest good is that right. -- is very passionate about. Moving forward and retaining ownership of the mall com. You know ease the one that has Moscow's store there. That's stores the number five store at a 43 -- and that includes -- once in Philly and things like that so. It's a very successful store. -- and I'm sure that he wants to maintain profitability. So even goal but mr. Moscow is is one of three owners. Principals in the foreclosure and would she still be allowed to purchase the mall and a sheriff's sale. It is under is where -- my understanding that they will allow him to bed. But it wouldn't because it's not the same entity. That's bidding. At the sheriff's sale will be different entities even though he's part of this -- now you will be a totally different entity then it'll be Al. So the possibility does exist that someone else could. Purchase the more absolutely it close the highest bidder whether it's Al whether it's the bank whether it's outside investors anybody except. This is there a chance that that a deal can be caught before it's sold it. I -- and I can see why not I'm you know that small ownership has been working with the lender. -- it's in everyone's best interest try to make this work somehow some way. You know someone could come in the meantime and offered to buy it. Are -- a lot of different possibilities but. You know mall ownership is working with the bank. That is for closing time the property so I'm that's a good thing for the tenants. That are at the mall right now. Is that I don't think they're cooperating and we sure we do what's best for the tenants in the shoppers sure. -- we will be talking hopefully what I'll Moscow after the fourth thirty news so we can ask him some of those kinds of questions. As far as you as you roll one and what your responsibilities are you were. Running the day to day mall operations that will continue no mater what's taking place in the near future. -- correct and well basically at our general managers Clarence banks are -- that you know that honcho at the mall. I -- -- director marketing and PR especially seeing. I'm so basically. You know it's my job to try to generate foot traffic from the mall. Arm he at the end of the day you know we wanted to provide a good shopping experience for people. We know that the ultimate wages increase foot traffic is to get the stores there the people want to -- they were mall management. Was working hard to get an anchor. To replace part time and gum this foreclosure. Situation just got. I'm spiraled out of control right now also the anger situation. Probably won't be finalized until after the foreclosure. It wouldn't be in anybody's best interest to do it now because. I don't know who would wanna -- if they don't know who's gonna. Almost sure when do they do have them up but -- -- have a company on the hook that there radio pulled the trigger it's just it's not anybody's been distant to do that now. Sure you you have been on board for a little over a year against centrum and then during that time -- -- even taken a look at that social media you've tried to upgrade FaceBook knows -- little bit about that well. -- basically you know well I came on board last January and tried to. Look and see where we spent money in the marketing department and you basically just tried to reallocate funds to. Have things that you got more bang for our buck. I mean I tried you we increased our FaceBook followers from 3000 to almost 1000 a year we revamped our entire web site. We tried them we tried to revamp. All the events that we're having at the mall. I'm to tried to make them that. You know it against the people would wanna come to an air vents. Are much better attendance than they had in the past come back and our heyday. You know 67 years ago you know we were number one by a model. Armed chops a montage came and -- a -- of our thunder and -- -- past chairmen basically trying to. Do whatever I can to generate interest in the mall and get people coming back to Leggett said at the end of the day. Is it all comes down to what stores we have for mission accomplished. Okay where we're talking with Jon told by these these. She our marketing etc. The executive and demolishing -- We're talking about what's happening this game down we will hopefully talked with -- -- -- after the fourth thirty knows. We'll take a break right now we'll come back we'll talk more with John told them what talker what John told he is a representative. Of the mall it's themed town which is in foreclosure as of today. -- -- shallow it is is not necessarily scheduled. To the best of my knowledge I don't think there's a date for the sheriff's sale but a sheriff's -- Is approved according to lack a -- county judge veto major -- He approved the listing of the mall for an upcoming black -- -- Sheriff's assailed John told -- as the head of marketing and public relations. And -- special Juli saying what exactly this specially leasing mean how does that figure into the bigger. Sure here just specialty leasing is basically. -- local businesses your regional people. Armed. You know we have the tax office in the overall -- the library things like that that's that's pretty much what it is and you know what we try to do is give local businesses the chance to. You don't try to make a name for themselves com for example. The eye drops store that's in -- -- -- -- they started out with specialty leasing and now they -- -- all over the place so imperfect world that's lit up especially releasing -- it would turn into if they don't all turn -- -- I dropped but here we give them a chance to. Social message you're you're talking you're talking a little bit like a like an incubator process like a startup process or interfere and then with the advent of social media and maybe some younger people live in downtown. The possibility exists that the the mall itself could very well acted as an incubator start up for some of these younger hipper business -- Absolutely I mean we we -- encouraged that you know basically -- perfect world the whole mall we still look national tenants to optimize. In this market they were and now we have three malls within six miles from each other so he got to get a little creative and then that's what we've been joined. Is trying to get creative think outside the box. You know -- try to fill those spaces to make it better for shoppers in attendance at tomorrow. And and this is where Moscow jobs as a as a -- -- that there is isn't solid and respected. Traditional brand offers more of what I would call traditional old furnishings whether it be. Clothing or or or other other goods. But I guess the magic comes and find in the balance especially when you're up against such troubling financial circumstances. And the troubling economy. Absolutely bet they don't play like you said before I'm. You know Bosco as does fantastic numbers are probably I would say hands on the the most popular department store in northeastern Pennsylvania bit. At the mall due to the challenges. To get someone on the other end of the mall. That is maybe not equally successful but didn't reasonably so. -- -- time really didn't fit the bill for whatever reason then you know when you have someone else that strong on the other hand them our stores in between benefit. And you know that's a challenge there -- trying to find the right fit I -- because Bosco as they they do a fantastic job over the what is it that you would like to see happen in the in the short run them ideally what would you like to see in the long run it. Well in the short run in a word you know I spoke del -- today end you know he's gonna. You know put some -- effort behind trying to view you know do whatever we can within the timeframe we have until the share sale to try to. A special promotions special. Come I mean green celebrities things like that to try to generate buzz with the mall in the meantime. And then in the long term I'm just fiscal. Easy responsibility and just being. Unstable and again there's a lot of uncertainty right now and I think. If this goes as planned. That they will have money to be able to reinvest in the mall to attract the big players and then everybody's happy. Okay you were coming up on. And an -- and opportunity to listen now Bosco we don't have that opportunity very often. And he is mentally involved in May the biggest deal of his life. Trying to save. This scheme Towne mall he's made it very clear if you if you listen closely now Bosco that. And the boscov's family. Only have responsibility. For bonds come ashore -- know I'm not marketing and they're not running boom all per cent. And if you can bid at this shattered shell to by the hole more all. Then he would focus. His business acumen and all his power. And true. Turning the mall round -- this in mind every indication I have and you heard our Moscow saying time after time after time. Boscov's is doing good -- feel a little more confident have to listen to him then I fell yesterday because. He's making a very clear bias cops with 43 stores and from this boscov's is number of fat. In terms of success the downtown Scranton stored number five. In terms of profitability. Among 43 boscov's stores and -- dorm room. So this is a real interesting situation here. We'll take market during a real quick -- we're coming up at the top of the hour and then I'm interested -- your impressions. What what John and help us had to settle. And what -- -- conference at -- Because really we're all in this together marking urea you don't have a lot of time but what are your impressions here. Sure sure politically. I do feel like that. What I think I didn't do it all so to speak. Strong spot -- out -- and also a couple of cross which is -- Where she would that timed out can do about the group. -- -- migrating to strip also in news. Location -- -- the. -- don't know much boscov's has all free parking underground you'll have to fight for parking space there. What are you are actually -- -- is offering this is offering. Sure but I think people look the schedule now would rather try and fire that did protect it and didn't know the name shops -- -- -- just didn't. -- get that. People drive up again walked even your shopping to Doctor Murray. A little bit harder when you include all and go through everything you do. We want our troops stores. So I think it would -- you look at what are changing. They're -- focus -- how to shop. At a time and they have a. John you wanna respond to her insurance open is still here with make sure absolutely -- I understand your concern I know that times change to our consumers changed. Are you you mentioned shops a montage. They're one of our competitors but you know they have vacancies to. You know last time I checked in 30000 square feet available. They have vacancies to. You know we have when he ourselves but and I understand there's a lot of people that wanna go to the store and pick up and leave after that. The male shoppers are like that. -- women shoppers tend to. You know hang around you delayed the mall experience German guy and I when I go and you're gonna -- -- -- to so. We'll carry hi John Douglas thank you very much marking -- were coming up.