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DEVELOPER OF MCKINLEY MALL WILL NO LONGER MANAGE FACILITY

Zamias Services Inc., the original developer and owner of the McKinley Mall in the Town of Hamburg, is reducing its ties to the local retail center as it refocuses its business.

The Johnstown, Pa.-based company has announced plans to sever management ties to 14 malls, including the McKinley Mall, as it gets out of the hands-on mall management business to focus on retail development. The company will also close a Dallas office and trim its work force as part of the business shift.

General Growth Properties of Chicago, which owns and manages the Lockport Mall and manages the Summit Park Mall, will take over day-to-day management and leasing duties for McKinley Mall and the other 13 properties. The management change is not expected to have any immediate impact on either tenants or shoppers.

The Zamias name has been associated with the Hamburg retail center since its debut in 1985. George D. Zamias, patriarch of the family retail management and development business, became a public figure in the early 1990s as he battled the Town of Hamburg and investment partner Heitman Properties Ltd. of Chicago, over property-tax assessments.

Zamias favored withholding tax payments until courts made a final determination on the amount owed, while Heitman wanted to pay the assessed amount, while taking action to have the assessment reduced.

The spat between the partners of Hamburg Associates Limited Partnership ended with a court decision that reduced Zamias to a behind-the-scenes limited partner in the shopping center. The ownership lineup changed again in December 1998, when Zamias bought out Heitman's stake in the mall for $63 million with the assistance of a new investment partner.

Damian Zamias, president of the retail development company, confirmed that Goldman Sachs' Whitehall Fund has held a majority stake in the local mall since that time. Zamias declined to detail what his company's ownership stake in McKinley Mall will be going forward.

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