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Austin’s Oak Park Mall owners taking steps to pay tax debt

Published 10:52am Thursday, June 27, 2013

AUSTIN — Mower County officials are still waiting on payment of roughly $378,170 in unpaid property taxes from Oak Park Mall, but ownership is reportedly working to come up with the funds.

Mower County Auditor-Treasurer Doug Groh said Tuesday morning that he’s been in contact with mall ownership, and they have discussed wiring, shipping or even driving payment from Chicago to the county by the end of the week.

Oak Park Mall Ltd. Partnership — which comprises Martin Graff of M H Graff & Associates Inc., and Martin Goldman of M J Goldman & Co. Ltd., both north of Chicago — has until the end of the month to pay the owed taxes.

“He’s working diligently to get those funds to us by June 28,” Groh said of Graff.

Groh said he’s been in talks with Cole Taylor Bank, the mall’s lean holder, about payment options for the owners to keep the property.

The unpaid taxes date to 2009 are due on lots 1 and 11 of the mall, which include Younkers, the CineMagic 7 movie theater and all other tenants except Shopko, which is owned by the retailer. The county’s assessed property tax value of lots 1 and 11 is more than $2.5 million as of this year.

Including the first half of 2013, Oak Park Mall Ltd. owes $474,846 in unpaid taxes. The group can avoid forfeiture by paying $378,170 in delinquent taxes or by entering a confession of judgment, which means paying 2013 taxes in full and paying 20 percent of the delinquent taxes followed by payments over five years. With a confession of judgment, the owners must stay caught up.

County officials continue to take steps to keep the mall open if the property forfeits to the county. Groh and County Attorney Kristen Nelsen are working to prepare temporary leases for the mall’s tenants.

On June 12, commissioners said they would work to keep the mall operating after a potential forfeiture, but the county would look to sell the property as quickly as possible, which would take a minimum of 90 days.

The mall also owes about $117,000 to Austin Utilities for its common areas, according to Mower County Coordinator Craig Oscarson.