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Harrison Town Square shopping plaza in Harrison under new management

November 26, 2018

A New York company has been named to run Harrison Town Square and place the shopping plaza up for sale.

An Allegheny County judge has appointed Pretium Property Management of White Plains, N.Y., as receiver of the property in the Natrona Heights section of Harrison. The shopping center was long known as the Heights Plaza.

Valvest and its servicer, Cerco, foreclosed on the property after Wild Blue Management allegedly defaulted on its loan.

Residents are hopeful the plaza has better days ahead.

John Richter, who walks to the plaza every day from his home in Harrison for coffee and groceries, said it’s in bad shape.

“It used to be nice at one time. In my younger days, every place here was filled up,” he said. Now, “You’ve got a lot of empty places.”

Barb Belli, of Lower Burrell, was leaving the recently remodeled and enlarged Big Lots at the plaza. “It’s beautiful,” she said.

More mid-range stores are needed, she said.

“I’d like to see more stores come in,” said Richard Reichenbaugh, of Brackenridge, who said he comes every day for groceries and to play the lottery.

The court order details Pretium’s rights to take possession of the property and to operate it without interference from Wild Blue and its principal, Steven Kogut. Pretium is also authorized to place the property for sale on the market.

Wild Blue, of Far Hills, N.J., bought the plaza, which opened in November 1955, for $20.5 million in December 2003.

Wild Blue attorney Jefferey Lalama did not respond to a request for comment.

Pretium’s appointment was effective immediately, according to the order dated Oct. 25. The company was given power to operate and manage the property, including making repairs.

Richard Lubkin, principal and manager of Pretium, could not be reached for comment.

The plaza was damaged by a fire in December 2012.

Wild Blue borrowed $16.25 million from Sedona Capital in April 2016, with an April 2018 maturity date. Sedona transferred the loan to Valvest, a British Virgin Islands corporation with an address in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in December 2017.

Valvest notified Wild Blue on May 18 that it had defaulted on the loan. That month, Valvest said Wild Blue also defaulted because of its alleged failure to maintain the property, as evidenced by property maintenance violations issued by Harrison Township.

The township in May cited the plaza for more than 30 violations, including sunken storm grates, potholes, broken sidewalks, burned out lights, broken and displaced curbs and faded parking lot lines. Township officials say repairs since the 2012 fire in the plaza’s facade was done have been completed in a piece-meal and stop-and-go manner.

Zoning and ordinance supervisor Lindsay Fraser said no work has been done since May and conditions have not improved.

“We are working with the new property management company to address those issues,” she said.

In its complaint, Valvest says it is owed $17.45 million.

For its work, Pretium will be paid a monthly receiver’s fee of $500 per month plus $250 per hour for time in excess of two hours per month, plus reimbursement for expenses.

It will also be entitled to the greater of 3 percent of gross monthly collections or $1,750 per month and a close-out, or exit fee, of one full month’s average monthly property management fee of $1,750.

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