Township to Fairgrounds Mall owner: 'Put up or shut up'

Georgia-based firm bought struggling mall in 2016

MUHLENBERG TWP., Pa. - After announcing that there are 10 land development plans scheduled for the February 21 Muhlenberg Township Planning Commission meeting, township Commissioner Michael Malinowski expressed his "extreme frustration" with Hull Management Group.

Hull, headquartered in Augusta, Georgia, paid $1.16 million to purchase the 750,000-square-foot Fairgrounds Square Mall in 2016.

In spite of promises to fix the property, Malinowski said at Tuesday's board meeting, "I'll tell you what the Hull Property Group has done, and that's nothing."

Malinowski quoted Jim Hull, managing principal of Hull Management Group, as saying, "It's a great property. It's a prominent property that needs major attention."

Malinowski said that, despite Hull's promise to work with the township, the only time the group approached the board was to ask it not to contest its reassessment evaluation and that Hull has not returned repeated phone calls from the township.

Malinowski said that he and other board members spend a significant amount of time talking to real estate agents to try to bring new development and new business into the township.

"We have a lot of good stuff going on in our community, so I would ask that if [Hull Management Group is] not interested in engaging us that I would hope they would do what is appropriate and allow others that want to engage with our community to do so," Malinowski said. "It's time to put up or shut up, and we'll apply as much pressure as we can for our residents to increase our tax base and develop this corridor."

Other business

A township resident told the board that he learned from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that Royal Green Recycling Center violated its agreement with the township by operating a shredder for five months without a foam suppressor. He said the suppressor helps control dirt and dust.

"What they did is a total disrespect for the environment, DEP, and Muhlenberg Township," he said.

Township officials said they were not aware of the violation and that they will check into it and take action if appropriate.

The commissioners also agreed to table a motion authorizing the purchase and installation of playground surfacing materials at Cherokee Ranch Playground. They asked for more information regarding how utilized the park is before approving the $54,000 expenditure.

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