A Glimmer of Hope for Aroostook Centre Mall

Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 6:28 AM EST
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Hope remains for tenants at the Aroostook Centre Mall, despite its closure earlier this week.  Newssource8′s Brian Bouchard has updates us on what has changed to allow some tenants to open their doors again.

“My message to the company (KRIG) is this is Aroostook county, and we do things a little different up here. I think some of these big corporations when they buy out these malls, I’ve always felt that it’s a tax writeoff for them, and it doesn’t really affect them as much as it affects the communities they’re shutting their malls down in.” says Allison Wheeler – Owner, All Star Gymnastics and Cheering.

As news of the Mall’s sudden closure broke Sunday, the Aroostook Centre Mall Facebook page lay dormant with the no mention of closure and the last update being posted on January 29th. However, at around 9 am Tuesday morning, a post was made 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 as 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 says 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.

“I’m optimistic, I think we all should be optimistic in these hard times things are hard enough for businesses. We’ve experienced a lot of loss in this city lately and I’m really, really hopeful and believe that things will be better.” says Dixie Shaw – Hunger Relief Program Manager, Catholic Charities Maine.

Brigman admits that facilitating the potential sale of the mall is normally outside the duties and responsibilities of a General Manager, however he feels that he has to think outside the box, and not rely on people in New York to take care of the mall.

“The Employees at the mall, Bruce and Kyle and the rest of the security staff there have always been fantastic.” says Wheeler.

“I know that Bruce Brigman and his staff at the mall have worked tirelessly. Unfortunately there’s more involved than just Bruce and I’m hoping that cooler heads prevail and that negotiations can happen and that it will be a good situation for everybody.” says Dottie Hutchins – Executive Director, Wintergreen Arts Center.

Brigman adds, 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.

“Honestly, people are coming out of the woodwork and I truly believe that’s the kind of community that we have and that’s the community that’s going to come together and we’re going to straighten this mall out. That mall is just a fabulous asset.” says Hutchins.

For more than a year, Brigman says, a large national chain store has been negotiating to become 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.

“I really wish the best for the Aroostook Centre Mall and that is something that’s better for all of us if all works out well.” says Shaw.

Brigman hopes a resolution can be reached, allowing the mall to remain open past Thursday.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8