Aroostook Centre Mall Closes Until Further Notice Leaving Tenants Shocked

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 9:33 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn


***UPDATE 1:00PM 28 Febuary, 2022***

A glimmer of hope for tenants at the Aroostook Centre Mall Tuesday.  There is potentially a local buyer for the mall.

It was announced Sunday afternoon that the Aroostook Centre Mall would be closed until further notice, due to failure on the part of the owners to pay the utilities bill. Monday marked the first day of it’s closure, but optimism lingers in the heart of the Mall’s General Manager.

Tuesday morning, a post was made on the Aroostook Centre Mall Facebook page with an update regarding the situation at the mall.

“Due to Active Talks with a potential buyer, Versant Power has pushed out the disconnection until Thursday Morning. All Star Gymnastics will be open today, as well have chopsticks and Homeless Services of Aroostook. I will continue to keep updating as things change.”

WAGM reached out to General Manager Bruce Brigman, who declined to be interviewed, but agreed to provide what details he could regarding the situation.

Brigman said that while there is still uncertainty, he is very optimistic regarding the Mall’s future, stating that he has spent the past year, contacting local investors, and negotiating a sale between Kohan Retail Investment Group and an undisclosed potential local buyer. This is something Brigman admits is normally outside the duties of a General Manager, however he feels that he has to think outside the box, and he can’t rely on people in New York to take care of the mall. He adds that since the release of the letter regarding the mall’s closure, public outcry has shown stakeholders that Aroostook County residents do not want to see the mall close. Brigman adds that for more than a year, a Large national chain store has been negotiating becoming a mall tenant, an establishment with a large enough presence that it has the potential to bring 2-3 other national chains with it, as the businesses have a symbiotic relationship with one another. Brigman could not go into specifics regarding the identity of the potential buyer, or the national chain, but says talks remain active.

The sudden closure of the Aroostook Centre Mall, has left it’s tenants scrambling to try and make sense of it all and figure out what the next steps are. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard has the story.

“We have seven cheer teams headed to Bangor next weekend and yesterday was our full dress rehearsal, and in the middle of dress rehearsal I received a text message from one of the mall employees letting us know that the mall would be closed as of February 27th.”

Allison Wheeler, Owner of All Star Gymnastics and Cheering describes how she, like other mall tenants, learned of it’s sudden closure. Wheeler says they’re in the process of looking for a new location.

“Fear, frustration, panic mostly. I think the shock of just all of a sudden not having a space for our program and having to break the news to the parents was probably the biggest thing.”

The text message included a letter to mall tenants stating the owners of the mall, Kohan Retail Investment Group, were not paying electrical or water utilities and both services would be shut off. With safety in mind, and no guidance available from Kohan, General Manager, Bruce Brigman distributed the letter informing the tenants, and the community of the Mall’s closure. Brigman declined to be interviewed, but did tell WAGM getting Kohan to pay the utilities every month has been a fight and now they’re non responsive.

“My first reaction was absolute shock”

Dixie Shaw, Hunger Relief Program Manager for Catholic Charities Maine recalls learning of the malls closure via Facebook. Catholic Charities Maine operates the Hope Chest Boutique out of a space in the Aroostook Centre Mall.

“We’ve enjoyed our time there and hopefully it can continue but it was shock, absolute shock, not sure what to do in the moment and it was a Sunday afternoon.”

“The feeling in the mall on Sunday being in there was very heavy, people were so unsure and didn’t know what to do.”

Sarah Duncan, Executive Director of the United Way of Aroostook says the closure of the Aroostook Centre Mall expedited their efforts to move their offices. United Way of Aroostook planned on moving into the location previously occupied by County Roots on Main Street, Presque Isle on March 1st.

“We immediately responded and went to our office and started moving out as much as we could to become operational as quickly as possible”

United Way’s Aroostook Cash Coalition, which provides free tax preparation to the citizens of Aroostook County has been moved all appointments to ACAP at 771 Main Street.

“We are not going to let our students down. We are absolutely committed to the families that are connected with Wintergreen.”

Dottie Hutchins, Executive Director of Wintergreen Arts Center says Presque Isle Recreation and Parks reached out and has offered the Sargent Family Community Center as a temporary location for some of their programs.

“The beauty of Wintergreen is that we’re not a space, we’re a group of people and we’re a community of partners and we’re all about our kids and the adult artists that we serve, so although we love our space, it doesn’t define wintergreen.”

WAGM attempted to reach Kohan Retain Investment Group and CEO Mike Kohan, however they have been unavailable for comment via Phone or Email.

Businesses that are part of a national or regional chain state that the decision to remain open lies within their corporate structure. As of Monday afternoon, JCPenney, Dollar Tree, Harbor Freight and VIP remained open and operational.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8

WAGM will take a closer look at what next steps will be for the tenants of Aroostook Center Mall on a future edition of NewsSource8 at 6.