Judge Orders Lincoln Mall to Close After Holiday Season

Lincoln Mall is to be closed Jan. 7

lincoln mall matteson

A Cook County judge late Monday ordered Lincoln Mall in south suburban Matteson to close after the holiday shopping season.

More than a year ago, the judge demanded that the owner of the mall, at 208 Lincoln Mall Drive, bring the crumbling complex up to basic operating standards.

Monday’s order, issued by Cook County Judge Thomas Condon, was delivered because money the owner initially provided for its upkeep has been depleted and there’s nothing left to keep the mall operating after December, according to a press release from a village of Matteson public relations firm.

Owner Michael Kohan provided a court-appointed receiver with only $150,000 in the last 15 months for repairs, maintenance and staffing, and the number of remaining tenants paying rent isn’t enough to continue daily operations, the release said.

Lincoln Mall is to be closed Jan. 7, the release said. Village officials and a real estate firm are reviewing bids from two developers interested in buying the mall, the release said.

While the decision to close the mall impacts dozens of workers and stores, it will not impact the Carson Pirie Scott store, which will continue to operate after the mall has been closed, the release said.

“As a village, we have done all that we can to keep Lincoln Mall open,” Matteson Mayor Andre B. Ashmore said in the release. “We understand Judge Condon’s decision, but this is incredibly disappointing for the local residents who make their livelihood at that mall. We will focus on helping them find new opportunities in Matteson to continue their retail operations.”

The mall has been operated by an independent receiver since August 2013, when Condon — citing a deteriorating condition that endangered the public — ordered Kohan to give up control of day-to-day operations but to provide funds to pay building staff, make emergency repairs and conduct basic maintenance, the release said.

Kohan initially agreed and put up $100,000 but it took several months and a court order before Kohan paid another $50,000 in January, the release said.

Collateral Trustee, the receiver, used those funds to pay overdue bills and to fund daily operations, and also spent substantial funds to fix hazardous conditions, the release said. That included faulty fire exits and blocking off parts of the mall that are partially demolished, it said.

Despite the repairs, the number of tenants paying rent has fallen from 56 to 40 over the 15-month period, which does not provide enough revenue to keep the mall open. Collateral Trustee expects $250,000 to remain past due by keeping the mall open through Jan. 7, the release said.

Work remains to be done to address the mall’s structural integrity, and new exits need to be created to comply with fire safety codes, the release said. An out-of-date operating system also must be replaced.

Kohan also owes more than $10 million in unpaid fines and taxes, the release said.

Kohan agreed in May to transfer ownership of Lincoln Mall to a new owner to be selected by the village of Matteson, the release said. The village then hired a commercial real estate developer, Jones Lang LaSalle, to seek proposals from private developers, and two bids are under review, the release said.

Ashmore and the village board will meet with both developers to determine whether they are qualified to take responsible control of the property, the release said. Meanwhile, Collateral Trustee will continue to maintain the mall’s basic systems until Jan. 7 and will solicit bids to permanently separate Carson’s operating systems from the rest of the mall, a process that could take up to six months and cost another $1.25 million, the release said.

The village, meanwhile, will identify available retail spaces where displaced merchants can consider moving their operations once the mall closes, the release said.

Lincoln Mall opened in 1973 with more than 100 merchants, including multiple anchor stores.

Kohan, a New York businessman, bought the mall for $150,000 in a judicial sale in 2012, promising to pay all back taxes and make the necessary investments to correct code violations and make the mall functional again, the release said.

The area around Lincoln Mall has continued to thrive, the release said, with new retail and construction maintaining it as a retail hub. Matteson has a demographic base with above-average incomes, home values and education, the release said, and is a prime location with Lincoln Highway, Cicero Avenue, Pulaski Road, Harlem Avenue and Interstate 57 all running through the village.

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