LOCKPORT – A run-down trailer park near the Fashion Outlets of Niagara mall was purchased Friday by Fashion Outlets II, a new entity created by the mortgage holders. Some of the few remaining residents who attended the auction said they expect to lose their homes.
Fashion Outlets II spokeswoman Karen Maurer sought to calm those fears. “We don’t intend to cause anyone any hardships,” she said. As for expanding the mall, “We don’t have any immediate plans.”
Town of Niagara Supervisor Steven C. Richards said, “I don’t know their plans, either, but as long as I’m town supervisor, the people there will be treated with respect and fairly.”
Lockport attorney John J. Ottaviano, the court-appointed receiver of rents, said there were 286 lots in Sabre Park, but as of his last report, only 44 were occupied, and of those, 30 tenants were already facing eviction for not paying rents.
He said this summer, the residents were offered one-year leases to expire June 30, 2013, but few signed them.
The park manager sought to demolish some 130 of the homes this year because of their poor condition, Ottaviano said. Also, the park’s management office was firebombed June 18. Ottaviano said that crime remains unsolved.
Fashion Outlets II was the only bidder at Friday morning’s auction in the Niagara County Courthouse. Brian Flanagan, an attorney from Rochester, entered a $4 million bid, the only one received.
Flanagan gave reporters a telephone number for Fashion Outlets II in Arizona. Maurer said Fashion Outlets II is a subsidiary of Macerich Partnership, in whose name the foreclosure was ordered. Flanagan had represented Macerich in court.
Macerich, a Santa Monica, Calif., company, sold the mall last year to Fashion Outlets of Niagara, based in Coral Gables, Fla., for $200 million.
Macerich acquired the 32.65-acre trailer park next to the mall last year, after the foreclosure proceedings had been begun by U.S. Bank National Association.
The mortgage changed hands several times since it was signed in 2004 by the former owners, Sabre Park Associates.
They stopped paying on the $6.2 million mortgage in October 2010, court papers said. Counting penalties and interest, Sabre Park owed more than $6.4 million when State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. signed the foreclosure order July 30.
Flanagan said Fashion Outlets II had recently acquired the mortgage from Macerich. There is no record in the court file or the Niagara County Clerk’s Office of such a transaction.
Robert Kehoe, who said he’s lived at Sabre Park for 10 years, attended the auction and told reporters residents have not been told what’s happening.
Another resident, who refused to give his name, said, “Now we’re losing everything because of their corporate money and greed and their behind-the-scenes deals.”
Maurer said, “We are continuing to honor the leases that are in place and work on the operating issues.”
Ted W. Janese III, the Niagara Falls attorney who served as auction referee, said Dec. 1 is the earliest Fashion Outlets II could legally seek to begin eviction proceedings against other residents.