Valle Vista mall opens with all lights blazing

The new owners of Valle Vista mall, purchased for $12.5 million, are no strangers to managing and rejuvenating distressed properties. Mall traffic is one of the keys, they say, and they intend to design innovative ways to bring more people back into one of the city's key retail areas.

HARLINGEN — Valle Vista mall opened bright and early.

The city’s largest shopping center apparently reached an agreement over a past-due power bill and on Tuesday morning it was shopping as usual.

Mall walkers, workers and shoppers were on the go inside the mall, where a notice posted by Reliant Energy last week informed the public of the utility’s intent to cut power unless Valle Vista paid an overdue bill.

How much the mall owed was not disclosed.

The troubled mall was purchased just over a year ago for a bargain $12.5 million by Kohan Retail Investment Group of New York.

A notice taped to an entry door at Valle Vista mall said the facility’s electrical power will be cut off Monday for non-payment. That was confirmed by a spokesman for Reliant Energy last week as well as by mall owner Mike Kohan.

The posting to Valle Vista Mall Realty Holdings LLC by Reliant Energy, required under the rules of the Texas Public Utility Commission, read: “Electric service to this establishment is scheduled for disconnection on 09/30/2019 due to non-payment.”

Kohan, owner of the Kohan Retail Investment Group, said it was just a misunderstanding which will be quickly cleared up, an “error on our part,” he said last week. Kohan blamed the non-payment of the electric bill on still being new to the Harlingen mall’s operations despite having assumed ownership of the mall more than a year ago.

The Kohan group specializes in buying up distressed retail properties like malls, and currently operates more than 25 of them. Yet non-payment of taxes and power bills is a recurring theme at Kohan’s other mall properties across the nation, according to multiple newspaper and television reports.