Plaza Las Américas will submit an offer before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York to retain the space that will soon be vacated by Borders bookstore, as part of its liquidation process, the mall’s management said Wednesday, in what seems like a surprise move.
So far, the mall management has not received any formal approaches from any bookstore to keep open the premises occupied by Borders and it is unaware if any other company other offers submitted at the hearing scheduled for today, the company said in a statement issued Wednesday.
“Bookstores have been part Plaza Las Américas’ formula for success since its inception in 1968 and we definitely want to keep an open space for literary, cultural and artistic activities that took place in Borders to continue,” said Rafael Ruiz-Comas, director of the mall’s corporate leasing activities.
“However, the space occupied by Borders is large. The book industry is going through changes and we want to give any prospective tenant in this category all conditions for their bookstore concept to be successful in a smaller, more suitable space,” he said.
Borders moved into Plaza Las Américas in 2000, taking over a 34,000 square-foot, two-level location on a prime corner of the mall. In doing so, it became the largest of the three stores that opened in Puerto Rico as part of an expansion plan that fell short when the economy stalled.
Two other Borders stores, in Carolina and Mayagüez, closed earlier this year and the Plaza Las Américas location is expected to wind down in a few weeks.
Plaza Las Américas’ decision to submit an offer to retain the space would likely compete with an offer a group headed by entrepreneur Amaury Rivera has reportedly already presented to the court.
In an interview with News is my Business earlier this week, Rivera expressed confidence in the fact that his offer — which has the backing of Florida’s Books & Books and publishing giant Penguin Books — would prevail.
If more than one offer is submitted before today’s deadline is up for the Borders lease, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court will carry out a bidding process between the suitors and the liquidating company on Sept. 13. The final offer will then be submitted for the court’s approval during a hearing Sept. 20.
If the lease of the space is reverted to the shopping center space, it will move forward with identifying the use it will give it, Ruiz-Comas said.
“If the outcome of the auction is what we expect, then we will begin the process of planning and analyzing the future use we will give the space,” he said.