Despite prior denials from the store’s manager , Amish Market has closed its doors at the Shops at Atlas Park, resolving what the mall’s court-appointed receiver said was an issue of unpaid rent.
“We reached an agreement for them to depart,” said attorney Paul Millus, who was appointed to run the mall until it is sold under foreclosure proceedings next year. “Part of the agreement was they pay some of the money toward some of their arrears and they were gone.”
Amish Market manager Sean Bren previously said published reports of legal action against the store drove customers away and prompted many people to demand refunds on gift cards they had purchased.
“We invested a lot of money for this business,” he told the TimesLedger last month. “We’re not going anywhere.”
Bren was not available for comment by Tuesday evening. An employee who answered the phone there Tuesday said the store was closed for good.
The Amish Market, which sold gourmet-quality meat, produce and cooking supplies, had been at the mall since soon after the center opened in fall 2006.
Millus said real estate brokers were talking with several potential tenants to take over the space.
“I expect on speaking with them this week and see what they have,” he said. “I won’t know anything until probably the end of the week.”
Millus also said the discount fashion retailer Stein Mart, the other store he was considering removing from the mall, would stick around until next year.
“Stein Mart’s going to be there through March,” he said. “Unless we work out something earlier. Anything is possible. But for now we’re happy to have them.”
The 12-acre mall, which opened in 2006, was built by developer Damon Hemmerdinger on an industrial park his family has owned since the 1920s. It had struggled to attract a local customer base with its upscale stores and faltered in the past year as the economy teetered on collapse.
Hemmerdinger announced his creditors, two French banks, had foreclosed on the property in February.
Since Millus took over, the mall has fenced its central fountain, which in prior years had been a favorite recreation spot for parents and small children, irritating other shoppers. Other changes included offering employees $1 day-long parking to keep their cars off public streets.
Millus also said the mall was in negotiations with a supermarket, though he declined to name the company.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2009 Community News Group
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