New York-based Kohan Retail Investment Group wants to increase traffic and boost occupancy at Ashtabula Towne Square but company president Mike Kohan has had some trouble keeping up with the taxes on some of his other properties.

Kohan finalized the purchase from Sure Fire Group LLC, a group of local investors, for $10.2 million on Tuesday, paying $4 million of the total price with cash, said Ashtabula County Auditor David Thomas.

In 2016, Kohan bought the Chapel Hill Mall in Akron. He owes $753,733 in delinquent taxes to Summit County, said Mike Migden, chief deputy fiscal officer. The county filed a tax foreclosure complaint against Kohan on Jan. 13. 

“To date, we haven’t received money,” Migden said on Thursday. “I grew up by Chapel Hill Mall and it makes me sad to see this happening. He makes a lot of promises.”

In early January, the city of Akron prepared to disconnect water service to the mall when the investment group made a $100,000 payment to keep the water running, allowing the remaining shops to stay open. The tenants had received letters from the city warning of the pending disconnection.

Ohio Edison threatened to turn off the electric and filed a civil complaint Jan. 13, in regard to the $195,700 Kohan owes Ohio Edison, according to Summit County Court records.

“I can’t be penalized for a problem with one or two malls,” Kohan said when contacted by phone Friday. “I own almost 40 malls across the country.”

But Kohan’s company currently owes back taxes on at least two other properties.

Last May, The Akron Beacon Journal reported Kohan had financial troubles at another property — the Berkshire Mall in Massachusetts. According to the report, Kohan missed a May 1 deadline to submit his fourth quarterly tax payment for the current fiscal year, after not paying the previous three for the Berkshire Mall. 

Kohan also owns the Great Northern Mall in Clay, N.Y., where he owes $3.4 million in delinquent taxes, with a tax auction looming in 2021 if the debt is not resolved, according to the Onondaga County Property Tax Service records.  

Thomas said Kohan’s background raises concerns, but the county auditor’s office is willing and ready to help make Kohan’s venture a success and he hopes Kohan will be as good a community partner as was Sure Fire Group LLC.

“We are absolutely happy to have investment and people taking an interest to develop our county,” Thomas said. “Our county economically is doing fantastic, I really hope this sale is a sign of great things to come for the area.”

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