As going-out-of-business sales heat up at The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., a New York firm has been hired to begin selling off the bankrupt retailer’s real estate assets.
A&G Realty Partners LLC today said it has been retained by the group of creditors and liquidators that bought the chain’s assets at a bankruptcy court auction in April. Store liquidation sales began April 20.
A&G is looking to sell more than 230 properties owned and leased by Bon-Ton in 23 states, including nine properties in Central Pennsylvania and 29 across the commonwealth. The midstate list includes a company-owned store in Lower Allen Township, Cumberland County; two leased offices in Springettsbury Township, York County; and six leased stores in Dauphin, Lancaster and York counties.
“The goal is not a fire sale with any of the real estate,” said A&G’s co-president Andy Graiser. “I think there are good opportunities not just for big national or regional players. We are expecting local guys to take a look at this.”
The full list of real estate assets totals 232 properties, including five offices and four distribution centers.
It also includes 223 retail assets, with 22 company-owned stores and the remaining retail properties leased. The stores include 157 department stores at regional malls, 39 locations in open-air shopping centers and 16 freestanding stores, as well as nine furniture galleries and two clearance stores.
A joint venture between liquidation firms Great American Group LLC and Tiger Capital Group LLC is currently selling off all Bon-Ton inventory as well as most other assets, including furniture, fixtures and equipment.
The inventory liquidation is expected to wind down by the end of June. A&G said it has been talking to interested buyers about Bon-Ton leaseholds and it plans to auction off any remaining leaseholds in conjunction with the end of the liquidation sales. Leasehold buyers would assume the remainder of any Bon-Ton leases they buy.
Graiser believes the properties could appeal to expanding retail chains, as well as developers interested in other uses.
“I could see some interest from the education and health care sectors,” Graiser said. “Clearly there is going to be redevelopment for some of the landlords that want to bring in more community-driven type opportunities. They may like entertainment and restaurants. They like fitness.”
The owner of the York Galleria in Springettsbury Township may be looking at those options as part of a “transformative redevelopment” plan it is crafting to revive the property. The mall is losing both Bon-Ton and Sears.
Graiser said he expects the Bon-Ton distribution centers will garner strong buyer interest, especially as the distribution sector continues to grow around e-commerce fulfillment. Bon-Ton has a state-of-the-art 1.1 million-square-foot e-commerce facility in West Jefferson, Ohio, that it opened in 2015.
Other real estate investors already were monitoring Bon-Ton opportunities as the chain struggled financially for years, Graiser said. He expects most of the deals to buy all Bon-Ton real estate will get wrapped up by the end of the year.
“I don’t think we are dealing with marketing of a surprise element. I think a lot of people have been looking at the Bon-Ton situation for a while,” he said.
A&G is known for conducting real estate sales for other retailers, including Sports Authority, Office Depot and RadioShack, among others.