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Reopening of Saks Fifth Avenue at The Mall of San Juan still up in the air

Saks Fifth Avenue, one of The Mall of San Juan’s two anchor tenants, expects to reopen the store that was devastated by Hurricane María on Sept. 20, but the specific date of when that will happen is still undetermined.

During a hearing at the San Juan Superior Court, where mall operator Plaza Internacional filed a civil suit against the retailer, Saks’ legal representatives said the store has been working from “day one” to repair the roof — which the storm ripped off — remove damaged inventory, and address mold issues.

“The lawsuit states that Saks appears to have abandoned the store and that it’s doing nothing,” Attorney Eric Pérez-Ochoa said in court during a hearing presided by Superior Court Judge Anthony Cuevas-Ramos. “But that’s not true.”

In its legal petition, plaintiff Plaza Internacional — represented by the McConnell Valdes law firm — seeks to gain more information about the retailer’s reopening, saying his client has been kept “in the dark” about the timeline of repairs.

“We’re clear on the fact that the storm had a catastrophic effect on everyone. But despite that, The Mall of San Juan is open and there are stores in different stages of repairs and construction. The information we have is that Saks did not work quickly, otherwise we wouldn’t be here,” said Attorney Arturo García-Solá, who is representing Plaza Internacional.

“The information that we also have is that they have no intention of repairing and much less reopening,” García-Solá said. “We have information that they had plans to relocate employees outside Puerto Rico.”

After listening to initial arguments from both parties, Judge Cuevas declared a recess and ordered the groups to “enter into a dialogue” to try to reach certain agreements.

“What I see here is a lack of communication. The parties need to talk to see if they can reach an agreement, specifically regarding the information that the plaintiff needs,” the judge said.

After a two-hour meeting, the parties remained at a stalemate.

“We submitted proposals and counter-proposals, but there’s still nothing agreed on the issue of the timeline of repairs,” García-Solá said. “What we’re proposing is a site inspection at the building so that we can see what’s happening there. We can spend time this afternoon trying to reach agreements.”

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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