WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The end may be near for Bon-Ton Stores Inc., but not for the space it has occupied since 1987 at the Wyoming Valley Mall.
While an exact date for closure is unknown, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), the company that owns the mall, is already in discussions with several possible tenants and a spokesperson for the company said a replacement for the anchor store will be found.
“We are sad to see Bon-Ton liquidating at Wyoming Valley as they have served the Wilkes Barre community since 1987,” said Amanda Hoprich, marketing director for Philadelphia-based PREIT. “However, we are proud of PREIT’s historical success in proactive approach and swift anchor replacement.”
Bon-Ton, which operates 260 department stores in the U.S., is expected to go out of business after two liquidation firms became the highest bidders at an auction for the bankrupt company’s assets Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.
The company, which has dual headquarters in York County and Milwaukee, Wisc., has stores in 24 states, largely in the Northeast and Midwest. There are two stores in Luzerne County — at the Wyoming Valley Mall and at the Midway Shopping Center in Wyoming.
Struggling financially in recent years, Bon-Ton filed for Chapter 11 protection in February in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Delaware.
“While we are disappointed by this outcome and tried very hard to identify bidders interested in operating the business as a going concern, we are committed to working constructively with the winning bidder to ensure an orderly wind-down of operations,” said company President and CEO Bill Tracy.
PREIT owns or manages 21 malls primarily in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin, and only two are impacted by the Bon-Ton announcement.
Hoprich said there is a lot of interest in the Wyoming Valley Mall Bon-Ton site, and at another one at a PREIT facility in Lacrosse, Wisc.
“We are already in discussions with stores to replace Bon-Ton,” she said.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.