Hadley’s Hampshire Mall faces foreclosure

The Hampshire Mail along Route 9 in Hadley.

The Hampshire Mail along Route 9 in Hadley. FILE PHOTO

The Hampshire Mail on Route 9 in Hadley on Tuesday afternoon.

The Hampshire Mail on Route 9 in Hadley on Tuesday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

The Hampshire Mail on Route 9 in Hadley on Tuesday afternoon.

The Hampshire Mail on Route 9 in Hadley on Tuesday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

The Hampshire Mail on Route 9 in Hadley on Tuesday afternoon.

The Hampshire Mail on Route 9 in Hadley on Tuesday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

The Hampshire Mail on Route 9 in Hadley on Tuesday afternoon.

The Hampshire Mail on Route 9 in Hadley on Tuesday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

The Hampshire Mail on Route 9 in Hadley on Tuesday afternoon.

The Hampshire Mail on Route 9 in Hadley on Tuesday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Dick’s Sporting Goods is an anchor tentant at Hampshire Mall in Hadley. A foreclosure auction is set for the longtime mall at 367-375 Russell St. for June 20 at 11 a.m., according to a legal advertisement in Wednesday’s Gazette.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is an anchor tentant at Hampshire Mall in Hadley. A foreclosure auction is set for the longtime mall at 367-375 Russell St. for June 20 at 11 a.m., according to a legal advertisement in Wednesday’s Gazette. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

The outside of  Hampshire Mall in Hadley on Monday afternoon. A foreclosure auction is set for the longtime mall at 367-375 Russell St. for June 20 at 11 a.m., according to a legal advertisement in Wednesday’s Gazette.

The outside of Hampshire Mall in Hadley on Monday afternoon. A foreclosure auction is set for the longtime mall at 367-375 Russell St. for June 20 at 11 a.m., according to a legal advertisement in Wednesday’s Gazette. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

An entrance to  Hampshire Mall in Hadley on Monday afternoon. A foreclosure auction is set for the longtime mall at 367-375 Russell St. for June 20 at 11 a.m., according to a legal advertisement in Wednesday’s Gazette.

An entrance to Hampshire Mall in Hadley on Monday afternoon. A foreclosure auction is set for the longtime mall at 367-375 Russell St. for June 20 at 11 a.m., according to a legal advertisement in Wednesday’s Gazette. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 05-21-2024 5:17 PM

Modified: 05-22-2024 8:10 PM


HADLEY — Hampshire Mall, one of the largest commercial properties along Route 9 since opening in 1978, is heading to a foreclosure auction next month.

A legal advertisement in Wednesday’s Gazette from Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin P.C. attorneys of Springfield, on behalf of Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas and Wells Fargo Commercial Mortgage Securities Inc., has set a foreclosure auction at the 367-375 Russell St. site for June 20 at 11 a.m.

The foreclosure on the mall, owned by the Pyramid Cos., which totals 435,000 square feet on 46.52 acres, is catching Hadley officials by surprise, with Assessor Dan Zdonek observing that most foreclosures in town are on residential properties.

The mall’s assessment this year is $19.2 million, which is about half of the $37.55 million assessment it had in fiscal year 2010. The mall lost almost $10 million in its property assessment over the next four years and had dropped to $23.21 million in fiscal year 2020. Because shopping centers aren’t often sold, the mall’s assessment is based on a number of factors, including occupancy rates and rents charged tenants.

Tax Collector Susan Glowatsky said the mall has always paid its property taxes on time, including its recent fourth-quarter taxes, for $225,248.64, on April 16. “The mall has been timely on all payments,” Glowatsky said.

Representatives from Pyramid Cos. did not respond to requests for comment.

Hampshire Mall opened 46 years ago to much fanfare, across South Maple Street from Mountain Farms Mall, which had opened five years earlier. Mountain Farms Mall was almost immediately crippled by the presence of the new mall, being known throughout the 1980s and 1990s as the “Dead Mall” due to the absence of tenants.

Since around 2000, when revitalizaton of Mountain Farms Mall began with a Walmart store, a slew of tenants have opened there, as the interior corridors at Hampshire Mall have been losing stores. Changes at Hampshire Mall began in 2003, when Pyramid sold off the end of the mall that had Kmart, an original tenant, to Target, which now owns its store and the land on which it sits.

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While another original anchor, Steiger’s, also closed, JC Penney has been a mainstay, joined in recent years by Dick’s Sporting Goods and PetSmart, as well as Jo-Ann Fabrics, as anchor stores. Cinemark, the movie theater, has been rebuilt and expanded over time as well.

Many of the mall’s tenants are entertainment- and lifestyle-based, including Planet Fitness, Interskate 91, FunHub Action Park, Pinz, All in Adventures escape room, LaserBlast and Elite Tae Kwon Do. A few restaurants continue in Cafe Square, such as Cheesy Street Grille, Latino’s Cuisine, Arizona Pizza and Tutti Frutti, with just a handful of interior shops, like Valley Artisans, X9 Games and Memorable Jewelry.

Even with the challenges it faces in being a shopping destination, Hampshire Mall remains relatively vibrant, Zdonek said, compared to what W.S. Development of Chestnut Hill found when it acquired Mountain Farms Mall in the late 1990s, a property that had deteriorated and including boarded-up businesses. By the late 1980s, that mall was home to a weekend indoor flea market and movie theaters, though there was also a Bread & Circus, now Whole Foods, as well as outparcels with a Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King restaurant.

W.S. Development bought the 290,000-square-foot property in August 1998 for $7.6 million, or $643,200 more than its $6.98 million assessed value.

What the Hampshire Mall foreclosure means and the impact on businesses there is uncertain. A Hartford Business Journal article on April 1 about the Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, Connecticut, an approximately 1.2-million-square-foot indoor shopping center, indicates that site had been in foreclosure for three years after falling behind on payments on its $130 million mortgage to Wells Fargo Bank. The mall attributed its financial difficulties to extended closures of stores during the pandemic and lack of rent payments.

Efforts to reach Lynn Gray, the general manager for both Hampshire Mall and Holyoke Mall, were unsuccessful. Gray was present recently, though, when students in the Architecture and Landscape Architecture departments at the University of Massachusetts created plans for bringing housing to the mall site, even though current town zoning prohibits such use.

Gray herself broached the idea at a public meeting in Hadley in 2002, noting that a 282-unit luxury apartment complex replaced a Sears store at the Kingston Collection mall in Kingston.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.