Attorneys had their first day in court Tuesday in the foreclosure suit brought by lender Romspen U.S. Master Mortgage LP, a Cayman Islands limited partnership, against the owners of the troubled Midtown DeSoto Square mall.
Rompsen had been seeking a summary judgment in the case to foreclose against the owners for payment of $21,889,109.27 that was due June 19, 2018.
Senior Circuit Judge Peter Dubensky heard nearly an hour of argument before denying the Romspen motion to show cause why a final judgment should not be rendered.
“I will be cautious,” Dubensky said, adding that he wanted to ensure that the full protection of the law was afforded before anyone’s property was taken.
Ronald M. Gache, attorney for the owners of Midtown DeSoto Square mall, said that his team needed time to develop its case against foreclosure, that he has not received the discovery information that he had requested, and that Romspen had objected to his other requests.
Tuesday was not the day to “ram-rod this foreclosure through. Today is not the appropriate day,” Gache said.
Gache alleged that the owners of the mall were defrauded by the sellers, Namdar Realty Group.
“We own this mall. We were defrauded by the sellers of the mall,” Gache said.
Murray Silverstein, attorney for Romspen, said the lender has not received a payment from the mall owners in a year, and that mall owners had from last summer to prepare their defense.
Furthermore, the allegation of fraud has nothing to do with Romspen, Silverstein said.
“There is no fraud directed against us. If they were defrauded, that’s not our problem,” Silverstein said.
Romspen is not interested in pursuing a fraud case against Namdar, Silverstein said.
“This is not some aberrational procedure. It is for the sole purpose of expediting the transfer of property that is lying there in waste,” Silverstein said. “We will come back later for the appointment of a receiver. We are entitled to a money judgment and a foreclosure judgment.”
The lawsuit will now move to a case management conference and to a court date, probably within the next few months.
High hopes and plans for the rejuvenation of the mall after new owner Meyer Leboviotz took over failed to materialize.
In a 2017 press release, Lebovitz, said he would focus on redeveloping the 678,000-square-foot mall.
Jerrell Davis, president of Madison Properties USA, and the mall’s property manager until Jan. 1, 2019, previously said that In addition to the improvements and a new 28,752-square-foot theater, he was planning an 18,000-square-foot restaurant complex as a key anchor of the mall.
Those improvements failed to happen, and the mall suffered yet another setback when anchor Sears closed their doors.