Creditors of Carson's parent company The Bon-Ton Stores are looking to buy and liquidate the regional department store chain, which employs 20,000 workers, including hundreds in Northwest Indiana.
A rival investor group that includes two mall owners also hopes to buy The Bon-Ton Stores in a bankruptcy court-supervised auction Monday and keep the business alive, but faced a setback in court last week.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath in Delaware decided the investment group, which consists of alternative asset manager DW Partners, commercial real estate investment and management firm Namdar Realty Group, its partner Mason Asset Management and retail real estate investment trust Washington Prime Group, couldn't collect a $500,000 fee from The Bon-Ton Stores to do due diligence into the purchase. She ruled a work fee was not allowed by the bidding procedures when other potential buyers, which include debt holders and liquidation groups, were footing due diligence bills themselves, according to court records.
“We remain in active discussions with DW Partners and other members of the investor group to complete an asset purchase agreement as we proceed toward the court-supervised auction scheduled to be held on April 16, 2018," a company spokesperson said in a statement.
The Milwaukee- and Pennsylvania-based retailer operates 260 stores under the Carson's, Bon-Ton, Bergner's, Boston Store, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers nameplates, including the Carson's in Southlake Mall in Hobart, the former site of the Woodmar Mall in Hammond and the Marquette Mall in Michigan City.
An estimated 137 workers are employed at the Southlake Mall department store, which has been one of the super-regional mall's anchor tenants since the 1970s.