By Mark Scheer
Niagara Gazette — TOWN OF NIAGARA — The Sabre Park mobile home property is heading for the auction block.
The park, located off Factory Outlet Boulevard near the Fashion Outlets Mall, is scheduled to be sold to the highest bidder during a foreclosure auction slated for Oct. 5. The auction will begin at 10 a.m. and will be held at the Niagara County Courthouse building, 175 Hawley St., Lockport.
Sale of the property follows the commencement of foreclosure proceedings against the park's current owner, Sabre Park Associates, LLC. The action was initiated by a company called Macerich Partnership, LP, an affiliate of a California firm that purchased the adjacent Fashion Outlets mall site last year. Court records indicate Sabre Park Associates owed more than $6.4 million on a mortgage at the mobile home park. Macerich acquired the lien last year.
In recent months, more than half of the residents at Sabre Park either moved their mobile homes off site or abandoned them on the property. A fire at the park's management office in June is still being investigated as an arson. Remaining tenants were recently offered new one-year leases that run through November of 2013. The property is managed by M Shapiro Real Estate, a Michigan-based company hired to manage the property by attorney John Ottaviano, who was appointed by New York State Supreme Court Justice Richard Kloch to serve as receiver of rents at Sabre Park.
A legal notice announcing the auction says the property will be sold as a single parcel with terms to be announced at the time of the sale. It lists the total judgment amount at $6,475,775.32, plus interests, costs and attorneys' fees. The prospective purchaser will be expected to deposit 10 percent of the bid price in cash or certified check at the time of sale.
Ted Janese III, the Niagara Falls attorney who is serving as the court-appointed referee in the foreclosure proceedings, said he had not yet received a written copy of the formal terms of sale from the plaintiffs, Macerich, but expected to have them in hand at least 24 hours before the actual auction.
Without a copy of the specific sale terms, Janese could not say for sure if the prospective purchaser of the property would be obligated to honor the terms of existing lease agreements with mobile home owners at the park.
"I don't have anything in writing yet, but I would expect that would be in there," Janese said.
Ottaviano said the process that's transpiring now has nothing to do with his work as receiver of rents. He indicated, however, that he was under the impression that the successful bidder for the property would be bound by the terms of the foreclosure sale.
"I don't think it would interfere with the lease rights," Ottaviano said. "It really depends on who buys it."
Janese indicated that Macerich itself may be one of the bidders participating in the auction.
Macerich's Buffalo-based attorney, Brian Flanagan, did not respond to repeated requests for comment from the Niagara Gazette.
Mark Gabriele, an attorney representing both the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency and the Town of Niagara Industrial Development Agency, acknowledged that the mall's new owners have had preliminary discussions with state and county economic development officials about a possible expansion plan for the Fashion Outlets. Gabriele said the talks were in the early stages and he could not say whether the plan would involve any portion of the Sabre Park property.
"My understanding is that there is an expansion being contemplated," Gabriele said.