The Aroostook Centre Mall on Sunday. Credit: Paul Bagnall / The Star-Herald

Only four years after the Aroostook Centre Mall in Presque Isle was sold at auction to a buyer in New York, the mall’s general manager says its owner is open to selling it.

The news comes after General Manager Bruce Brigman posted on the My  Aroostook! Facebook page on Sunday that the mall would close this week because the owner, Kohan Retail Investment Group of New York, had not paid the water and electric bills. He said the owner would be willing to look at offers.

“We’re in talks with local buyers, and hopefully one of them will come on board,” Brigman told the Bangor Daily News on Monday.

A Kohan receptionist said company owner Mike Kohan was not available for comment on Monday.

Brigman would not comment on how much Kohan Retail owed the utilities nor whether the company had made improvements to the mall since the purchase for $4.65 million in March 2019 via the auction site Ten-X. At the time the mall had a 55 percent occupancy rate, but the current rate is not immediately available.

“I’m wondering whether the company has made that back from rental payments,” said Orest Mandzy, managing editor of Commercial Real Estate Direct, a website that tracks commercial real estate transactions. “Maybe the property’s not generating enough rental income to even keep the lights on.”

The mall has had a troubled history, having also been up for auction in October 2017, when it received no interested buyers.

Brigman said the electric and water companies have helped with giving as many extensions as they could. He said Kohan Retail has a history of paying the bills at the last minute, but recently it has not paid the bills.

A similar story is playing out with the mall’s property taxes, according to Deb Ouellette, the Presque Isle tax collector. The city has placed liens against Kohan Retail’s holding company, Aroostook Center Mall Holding LLC, in 2019, 2020, 2021 and plans to in 2022 if the company does not pay taxes by their due date.

Ouellette said that for 2019 and 2020, it did pay its outstanding taxes before the lien maturity date, which is 18 months after the lien is filed. The company still has not paid the $196,908 in taxes on a lien for 2021 taxes and it is late paying the 2022 taxes of $176,372. A lien for 2022 will be filed if those taxes are not paid by late April or early May.

Ouellette said it is not common for a company to hold off so long in paying its taxes.

The mall is assessed at $7.3 million, including the building and land. Kohan Retail owns 42 malls across the country, It owns two others in New England, the Brass Mill Center in Waterbury, Connecticut, and the Emerald Square Mall in North Attleborough, Massachusetts.