By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — TOWN OF NIAGARA — The owners of the Fashion Outlets of Niagara mall will not be offering new leases to residents of an adjacent mobile home park they purchased earlier this month.
Residents of Sabre Park received papers Thursday confirming what most of the mobile home owners suspected — the mall will not continue to operate the property as a mobile home park long-term and, as a result, they will be forced to leave.
Macerich Partnership, L.P. bought the mall last summer for $200 million. The company acquired a $6.4 million lien on the mobile home park last year. It then purchased the Sabre Park land at a foreclosure auction for $4 million through a subsidiary called Fashion Outlets II, LLC.
The notice delivered to Sabre Park residents this week from Fashion Outlets II, LLC informed them that the company has “decided to change the use of this property” and that is is required by law to inform all tenants. The letter goes on to say that tenants will need to “seek other accommodations and move out of the park.”
The notice states that all current leases will be honored, but that tenants who do not keep up on rent are subject to eviction and will be responsible for a portion of the company’s attorney fees if litigation is necessary.
Robert Kehoe has been living in Sabre Park for almost a decade. He said that he now knows that the work he has been putting into improving his trailer — new carpets, a new roof, replacing the siding — will have been for nothing. He has asked managers of other mobile home parks how much it would cost to move his home and they have told him that the cost would make the move unreasonable, he said.
“They said that the house is too old and I’d be better off buying new,” Kehoe said.
Mark Kassab, who is identified as an agent for the park’s owner, circulated another document later on Thursday with a buy-out offer for tenants who are willing to vacate by March 1, 2013.
In exchange for an early exit, the mall will not require tenants to continue paying rent and will give them a check for $800 after they have left, according to an Oct. 25 letter from Kassab. Tenants need to decide whether they will take the deal by Nov. 10, according to the document.
Both Kassab and representatives from Macerich did not respond to requests for comment.
Kehoe said that he has been seeking a loan for a new house and that he was told that his credit was good enough to get a loan, but that the bank is asking more for information about his disability status. He has not been working because of a back injury and will soon, again, require surgery.
“All this is coming everything all at once here,” he said.
Kehoe doesn’t feel as though he will have enough information to make a good decision on whether to take the mall’s deal by the deadline, he said.
Dawn Zaker lives in the home with Kehoe. She said that they, and many of their neighbors, have been putting a lot of thought into signing the dotted line in a few weeks.
“In our situation it’s not a lot of time to really think about it,” Zaker said. “It’s almost like hurry up and make your decision and then four months later you’ve got to be out of here.”