Zamiases file for personal bankruptcy
|About the mall|
Plans for the Frazer Heights Galleria mall along the Route 28 Expressway were proposed in 1981. |
Officials from the developers, Johnstown-based Zamias Services Inc., said at a municipal tour in April that the mall's final design was nearing completion.
The project, which includes a 1.2 million-square-foot enclosed mall, will cost about $300 million to build. It will have 130 to 150 stores and offices, Zamias officials said, including JC Penny and Kaufmann department stores.
Zamias officials said they planned to open the mall by fall 2004. The development could create 6,000 mall jobs and 2,000 related jobs, company officials said.
PennDOT granted point-of-approval access for a Route 28 expressway interchange - a significant step to beginning construction on the proposed mall. PennDOT officials said they hope to begin construction on the interchange by 2003.
PennDOT must approve the final interchange designs. A specific design for the interchange has yet to be made.
Local officials hope the proposed mall will bring a much-needed commercial tax base to the township.
Overall Zamias Services Inc. owns about 22.6 million square feet of retail space in 20 states.
Zamias Services released management contracts at 14 U.S. malls and laid off 13 at its headquarters earlier this year.
Filings for Chapter 11 bankruptcy were entered Monday in federal bankruptcy court in Pittsburgh on behalf of both men.
The Zamiases' lawyer, James Walsh, said Monday the bankruptcy is not related to the proposed Frazer Heights Galleria mall.
'That is a separate legal entity that has not filed bankruptcy,' Walsh said. 'We have every reason to believe it is going forward.'
Damian Zamias said Monday he and his father were forced to file for bankruptcy because of an $11 million judgment levied against them in a New York civil case not related to the mall. The case involved a lawsuit from a New York City mortgage broker company, which with the Zamiases had a dispute over money owed, Zamias said. The Zamias' have appealed the verdict, Damian Zamias said. 'The filing is strictly a function of that matter,' he said. 'It's important to know that the Frazer project did not file.' The bankruptcy applies only to Damian and George Zamias individually, Zamias Services and four or five other partnerships related to the New York deal involved in the lawsuit, said Zamias attorney Joe Anthony. Indirectly, the bankruptcy could affect the mall project because creditors might be hesitant to loan money to projects in which the Zamias' are participating, Walsh said. 'I can't give you any assurances it won't affect it in terms of how banks look at the company,' he said.
Zamias said he believed his development company's 45-year track record would help offset any qualms creditors would have over the bankruptcy.
'Fortunately, we enjoy outstanding relations with our investors and lenders,' he said.
'So even though you have to take the Chapter 11 filing seriously, our lenders have had positive experiences with us and know we do good projects.'
Wynne Everett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributing: Staff writer Jeff Jones