Time for 'new blood'?: Westwood Plaza posted for sheriff's sale

Oct. 31—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A foreclosure has been executed on Westwood Plaza in Lower Yoder Township, owned by Westwood Zamias Limited Partnership.

More than a dozen business tenants rent space at the plaza, located at 1910 Minno Drive, Johnstown.

Zamias has owned the plaza since 1990. Company President Perry Russ was traveling last week and said in an email that the company had no comment at this time about the approaching sheriff's sale.

The property includes the Westwood Plaza Theatre & Cafe, Andolina's Barber Shop, Bargain Beer & Pop, Burger King, Capri Pizza & Restaurant, Dollar Tree, Dunkin' Donuts, H&R Block, H.F. Lenz Company, Memorial Medical Center offices, Northwest Bank, O'Shea's Candies, Pizza Hut, Vantage Physical Therapy, Wine & Spirits and Main Source Trading Corp.

The plaza is on schedule for the Dec. 10 county sheriff's sale to the highest bidder, Cambria County Courthouse documents show.

The base bid price would reflect the sheriff's department costs of posting the property for sale. That cost has not been finalized, sheriff's department staff said.

The slated sale of the Westwood Plaza is to enforce the total foreclosure judgment of $11.5 million made against Zamias in June. The sale may be stopped if Zamias pays the judgement or files a petition for the court to strike the judgment, according to the notice filed at the Cambria County Courthouse.

Follows Galleria

The plaza's foreclosure and scheduled sheriff's sale follows that of The Johnstown Galleria mall in Richland Township, another former Zamias property.

The Galleria's mortgage creditor, U.S. Bank National Association, bought the mall in a sheriff's sale last month at the base bid of $238,718.

The sheriff's sale of The Johnstown Galleria in September was the culmination of a 20-month foreclosure process, which had started with a court-appointed receiver taking over mall management from Zamias Services Inc.

A foreclosure judgment of $15 million was subsequently made against the mall's owner, ADAR Johnstown LLC. Although Zamias managed the mall until foreclosure, the mall's mortgage had been owned for years by ADAR, a Florida-based company.

The creditor has continued operating the mall since taking it from the sheriff's sale.

Court documents show the foreclosure of the Westwood Plaza began in June, with the appointment of a receiver to manage the property in place of Zamias. A foreclosure judgment followed days later.

The plaintiff in the case is Zamias' mortgage creditor, Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, as trustee, on behalf of the registered holders of GS Mortgage Securities Corporation II.

Westwood Plaza Theatre owner Blake Fleegle, who is also an entrepreneurial coach with local economic development agencies, said he believes a sale to a new owner will be a positive change for the plaza's tenants in the long-term.

"In the short-term, there will be road bumps in figuring out who the new owners will be and what their strategy is — but long-term, if you get someone who is newly vested in the Plaza, they are going to be financially interested in bringing in new tenants and not leaving it as is," he said. "It's been a slow drain over the past 10 years. Hopefully with new blood, we can start to reverse that trend."

Fleegle said the Theatre has a lease in effect for the next five years, so he doesn't expect any drastic changes to the plaza in the near future.

He said the loss of grocery store tenants, the last one to leave in 2015, has led to declined traffic to the plaza.

"I think the biggest change, which was no one's fault really, was when Bilo closed and then Good Cents after them," Fleegle said. "They had an auction and sold out the contents of the space and now its just a big white box, which is difficult to lease. Without that big anchor on the corner, it reduced traffic for the plaza in general. When you lose a big anchor like that, it hurts everybody."