Insurance payout moves Midtown Mall building forward

By Kelly McCarthy

March 8, 2013 Updated Mar 8, 2013 at 7:40 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A Broome County Supreme Court Judge orders the release of more than $3 million of insurance money to the owners of the former Midtown Mall.

Since the fire in 2010, Stellar 83 Court, LLC has been in a legal battle with PMC Property Group for the remaining insurance money.

At the time of the fire, the property was being gutted for new student housing. Now, more than two years later, the boards covering the windows could be coming down.

The property abutting the Midtown Mall, Professional Towers, was also destroyed in the fire. Owner Mark Yonaty said the news comes to him with mixed emotions.

"Obviously I'm a little bit bittersweet," Yonaty said. "I'm glad to see that there's going to be some positive activity with respect to the development of an adjoining building. The bitter part is that they have the ability to move forward where I'm basically out of business with respect to an incident that happened that had nothing to do with our building."

Since the fire, each of the former tenants of Professional Towers have found permanent locations.

"Currently I believe that the office demand in our area is a little bit slim right now, so the ability to attract an anchor tenant like we had, or we lost, is not probable," Yonaty said.

He hopes the plans to move forward on the University Lofts project will bring more interest to vacant buildings downtown, including his property next door.

"It's really a landmark of Binghamton and I know what it can be developed into because I've done it once before, and it was a beautiful building," Yonaty said. "So my hope is that it gets restored back to its original condition, whether it be office or residential."

Yonaty is looking to sell or lease the Professional Towers building.

"I was definitely naïve to the fact on how long things take, all the way from settling with an insurance company, all the legal matters, and certainly the litigation that was going on now," Yonaty said.

Broome County Justice Jeffrey Tait said in his decision the insurance money should be paid to Stellar 83 Court as soon as possible.