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Hamilton Mall owes money for security services, lawsuit alleges

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Hamilton Mall.jpg

The Hamilton Mall in recent years has been documented as behind on electric and security payments.

Scott Fine manager of Level Up Entertainment talks about Atlantic City Electric issued a notice to the Hamilton Mall about disconnecting the power if an unpaid balance isn't paid by April 7. 2021

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — A Los Angeles-based security company is suing the Hamilton Mall and its former owner for allegedly owing more than $200,000 for its services.

Professional Security Consultants, which, according to its website, provides security forces to more than 100 malls, says the Hamilton Mall’s management has yet to pay an outstanding $231,360 bill from July 13 to Dec. 27, 2019.

The suit adds to the mall’s mounting financial struggles over the past few years, most recently owing money on its Atlantic City Electric bill in 2021. That matter was rectified after the electric company posted shutoff notices on the mall’s doors, startling shoppers and store management.

The mall also has been struggling to retain tenants, leaving portions of the facility quiet, particularly after anchor stores Sears and JC Penney have been left empty.

While visiting the mall Wednesday, Rigo Aguilar and Cristell Ramirez remembered a thriving shopping center from about a decade ago. Now, with fewer open stores, attracting more well-established retailers to open stores could help swing the mall back to more vibrant days, Aguilar said.

“There’s no more good stores,” said Aguilar, 21, of Hammonton. “There’s like five good stores, that’s it. They closed the big ones.”

The mall’s management office directed questions about the lawsuit to its owner, Namdar Realty Group LLC, which does not comment on active litigation, the company said.

Carmelo Torraca, an attorney from the Cooper Levenson law firm, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Professional Security Consultants in state Superior Court on July 15.

Torraca did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Kravco Company LLC, of Pennsylvania, sold the mall to Namdar in 2019. Namdar, which is based in New York, also owns the defunct Echelon Mall, about 45 minutes away in Camden County, which has since become the Voorhees Town Center.

The Hamilton Mall contracted Professional Security Consultants on or about Sept. 15, 2018, according to the lawsuit.

While the mall “wrongfully chose not to pay the outstanding invoices,” the company’s security force continued guarding the mall despite being owed money, the lawsuit says.

The company is seeking compensatory damages, consequential damages, punitive damages, interest, attorney’s fees and other relief the court deems equitable and just, the lawsuit says.

The mall is Atlantic County’s only remaining of its kind, opening in the 1980s, and is considered a factor in the demise of the former Shore Mall. The Shore Mall, off the Black Horse Pike about six miles from the Hamilton Mall, was renovated into the Harbor Square shopping center roughly a decade ago.

The Egg Harbor Township mall was cut in half during a demolition project, leaving Boscov’s as the only anchor store from the shopping center left open.

In recent years, the Hamilton Mall has gone from a vibrant shopping destination to one with an abundant number of vacant spaces and shrinking property value.

The Hamilton Township tax assessor priced the mall at $90.78 million in 2017, falling to $75 million a year later. In 2019, the mall’s value dropped again, to $50 million.

Many say the mall hasn’t been the same since Sears and JCPenney closed within the past five years. The mall managed to bring in Shoppers World to fill the JCPenney location, but it has since moved out.

Other shops long gone from the mall that remain alive in shoppers’ memories include the Disney Store and the GAP.

“It went from being really full of stores to barely nothing,” said Ramirez, 21, also of Hammonton. “Everything is closing now, so not a lot of people come here.”

Contact Eric Conklin:

609-272-7261

econklin@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressConklin

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