Bennington Square sold at auction for $750,000

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BENNINGTON — Bennington Square was sold to two bidders at a foreclosure auction Thursday for $750,000.

Mark O'Connor and Evan Portno purchased the property, which includes the center and about 24 acres of land, for their opening bid.

They were the sole bidders.

The auction was conducted at the property at 95 Bennington Square early Thursday afternoon.

"I will take bids in excess of the [$750,000], but I'm guessing that's not going to happen," said auctioneer Mike Carey, senior vice president of sales at Tranzon Auction Properties, before confirming the sale to O'Connor and Portno.

The property was sold in "as-is, where-is" condition. People's United Bank holds the mortgage on the property.

Terms of the sale included a $25,000 deposit required to bid, in cash or certified funds. The winning bidder is also required to increase that to equal 5 percent of the purchase price within five days, and must be prepared to close on the property within 45 days or 10 days from when the court confirms the sale, whichever is later.

The property is about 55 percent occupied. It contains about 150,0000 square feet of rentable building, including two freestanding "pad" sites, according to the property summary given to bidders.

Carey characterized the auction as a "great sale."

"We had really tremendous interest in it," he said of the property. "Retail is not dead. It's just changing. My guess is it will continue to operate in a very similar capacity."

Seven tenants occupy the space, including JC Penney, Staples, Olympia Sports, Jay's Hallmark, Label Shopper, Burger King and People's United Bank.

Vacancies include the former Kmart space, which is around 55,000 square feet.

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The property's assessed value is $3.65 million, and it has annual taxes of $105,710.07, according to the property summary.

Sadie Teal, manager of the Olympia Sports in the plaza, previously said she wasn't told the shopping center was up for auction.

"They don't tell us anything about that," she said.

When asked how a sale would impact the store, she said that would depend on whether the new owners wanted the store to remain in the shopping center. "[We'll] see how it goes," she said.

"I'm glad there's an interest in the property, and look forward to seeing what the new owners might be willing to do to bring it back to fully productive use — that would be great," Stuart Hurd, Bennington town manager, said Thursday.

Bennington Square has suffered multiple losses in recent years, as its Kmart, which had opened in March 1979, closed in 2018 and its Radio Shack store closed in 2017. The Maurices store in the plaza has also closed.

In February 2019, the Banner learned the plaza's Payless ShoeSource store would also close, as the Kansas-based discount shoe retailer, publicly confirmed it would close all its 2,100 stores in the United States.

Bennington Square is owned by Bennington Square Partners, of 120 White Plains Road, Suite 110 in Tarrytown, New York, in the care of Juster Development Corporation, the town assessor's office has confirmed.

A request for comment from Juster Development Corporation was not returned by press time Thursday.

Bennington Square Partners is current on its taxes, according to the town collector's office.

Work on Bennington Square began April 17, 1978, by Burgess Brothers of Bennington.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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