PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A deal for the purchase of the Aroostook Centre Mall may be imminent as mall tenants wait in limbo.
There are two potential local buyers, but their names will not be made public at this point, Presque Isle City Councilor Craig Green said Wednesday.
Presque Isle officials and mall tenants were informed the mall would close on Sunday because the owner, Kohan Retail Investment Group, failed to pay utility bills. The news left businesses and organizations inside the mall scrambling to pay their own utilities or face moving to stay in business.
The Kohan group purchased the mall in 2019 and hired Bruce Brigman as manager. Brigman posted a notice Sunday detailing the closure and his embarrassment at the situation. He told the Bangor Daily News Monday that the owner was open to selling the property.
The new owner would take over ongoing electricity charges, but the rest of the unpaid debt will remain the responsibility of its current owner, Green said.
Tenants received a brief reprieve on Tuesday.
“Due to active talks with a potential buyer, Versant Power has pushed out the disconnection until Thursday morning,” the mall posted on social media.
On Wednesday, some tenants were continuing business while awaiting a resolution.
LeBlanc’s School of Martial Arts remained open today and will see what happens, owner Andy LeBlanc said. He likes the school’s location in the mall, but if it closes he’ll look for a new site, he said.
Chopsticks, a restaurant inside the mall, was busy on Wednesday. The owners were unavailable for comment.
Since their utilities are directly tied to the mall, Ruby Tuesday and Crown Collectibles will shut down if the extension from Versant Power runs out tomorrow.
Along with businesses, the shopping center houses several nonprofits, including Homeless Services of Aroostook.
The organization should have been informed of the unpaid bills when it moved into the mall last fall, Homeless Services CEO Lisa McLaughlin said Wednesday.
If the mall closes, Homeless Services will use Ignite PI’s Main Street business center temporarily, and eventually move to Aroostook County Action Program space at the former Key Bank building.
Mall tenants stay in touch through a phone texting group, McLaughlin said.
Brigman said he would make an announcement on Facebook if the mall is purchased, but declined further comment.
Multiple attempts to reach the Kohan Retail Investment Group were unsuccessful.