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Hamilton Mall facing potential loss of power due to unpaid electric bill
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Hamilton Mall facing potential loss of power due to unpaid electric bill

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Scott Fine, co-owner of Level Up Entertainment, talks about Atlantic City Electric issuing a notice to the Hamilton Mall saying it will disconnect power if an unpaid balance isn't paid by April 7.

MAYS LANDING — Starcade owner Bridget Den Boer didn’t see any notices as she came into the Hamilton Mall on Tuesday morning.

It wasn’t until she saw a photo making its way around the internet that she began to worry for the future of her business.

On Monday, Atlantic City Electric posted a notice at one of the mall’s entrances stating that if an outstanding electric bill wasn’t paid on or around April 7, the mall’s electric services would be disconnected.

“I was like, ‘That’s not great,’” said Den Boer, 24, “especially seeing as I operate something that heavily relies on electricity.”

Those concerns were quelled when mall management sent a notice to vendors assuring them things were under control.

The mall remains open.

“(They said) that Namdar is taking care of it, not to worry, and if we have any questions, talk to management,” Den Boer said.

The mall was sold to New York-based Namdar Realty Group in July 2019 following the closings of Sears and JCPenney in November 2018 and July 2019, respectively.

Attempts to contact Namdar were unsuccessful.

Atlantic City Electric Senior Communications Specialist Frank Tedesco did not disclose specifics on the mall’s financial situation but said the utility makes “every attempt to keep our customers connected.”

“We have worked repeatedly and extensively to avoid this action,” Tedesco said, “but have been unsuccessful in our efforts to date.”

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Den Boer is optimistic things will be fine.

Having run Starcade for almost two years near the former Sears location, she recalls a time when she was the only business in her section of the mall. Recently, she’s seen things change.

“Stores are leaving, but they’re also doing really good work to bring in new businesses,” she said, “which hasn’t been happening; but the mall got new local management and now, all of a sudden, we’re getting a lot more businesses coming in. So I feel pretty good.”

The last couple of years have been difficult on malls around the country. According to a report by Coresight Research, an estimated 25% of America’s roughly 1,000 malls will close in the next three to five years.

Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said the county would consider stepping in to help with some type of financing, like it did for Boscov’s in Egg Harbor Township about 12 years ago, to keep the mall and its jobs going.

“If they would like to sit down and we could be of any service, we would most certainly do it,” Levinson said of the mall’s new owners.

“When Boscov’s was going belly up and needed money, I sat through half a dozen meetings with Al Boscov and we came up with a 10-year solution … to keeping everyone working,” Levinson said of a $3 million loan the county made the store in 2009. “It did not cost the taxpayer one red cent. Now, it’s thriving and the most successful Boscov’s in the country.”

Boscov’s repaid the loan in 2019.

The Macy’s store at the Hamilton Mall provides dozens of jobs to county residents, Levinson said, and other stores provide small business owners with a living.

“People depend on it to pay for rent and food,” he said. “This is not just a tragedy developing — hopefully it could be warded off.”

“We’re here if they need us,” Levinson said. “They know where we are.”

Contact Ahmad Austin:

609-272-7404

AAustin@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressAustin

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post: 609-272-7219

mpost@pressofac.com

Twitter @MichelleBPost

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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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