By Jessica Cohen
The strip mall on Pike Street in Port Jervis has been closed since last year, but the developer who bought the mall for $1.68 million last week has kindled city officials’ visions of a resurgence of commerce on the site.
Owners TK Associates abandoned the property to closure and foreclosure after water gushed through Rite Aid’s ceiling one rainy night last June. TK owed more than $4 million to BPD Bank.
Ellicott Development Co. was the sole bidder on the property at last week’s auction. The Buffalo-based company was founded by Carl Palladino, who ran for governor in 2010.
“We don’t just buy a property to throw clients in,” said William Palladino, CEO of the company and son of its founder. “We buy property to which we can add value. We make it more pleasing and attractive to attract better tenants.”
Their plan is to develop a mix of national, regional and local tenants, he said.
The company has a long history of rehabilitating neglected properties, Palladino said. In Buffalo, Ellicott is converting a decades-dormant historic building, reported to have had trees growing through it, into an apartment building.
“We look for properties headed for foreclosure,” Palladino said. “We make a lot of offers, and this time we were successful. We got it at enough of a discount to be able to remodel and rehabilitate.”
The company has relationships with national retailers with whom it has had discussions about the Port Jervis mall, but no commitments.
However, Burger King, the lone survivor on the lot, is interested in rehabilitation or rebuilding, Palladino said, consistent with its new marketing concept, “the 20/20 look,” with 20 years into the future in mind.
As for the possibility that Port Jervis will establish visual standards for aesthetic consistency in the city, Palladino said, “At the appropriate time, we’ll talk with city officials and come up with aesthetic improvements.”
Kelly Decker, Port Jervis councilman-at-large, concurred, saying the city hopes to have a better relationship with Ellicott than it had with TK Associates.
“We want to work cooperatively,” he said. “We need to look long-term, but not play hardball, or they won’t do business with us.”
“They seem like straight-minded investors,” said Councilman Rob Waligroski. “I’d like to see a Rite Aid superstore in town.”
Decker said he noticed a testimonial online for Ellicott from Rite Aid. He said plans are afoot to build a Rite Aid with a drive-through window at the mall, and that Burger King will be rebuilt.
“The plaza could be totally redeveloped,” he said.