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Since the Renaissance house of cards requires full and timely payments from every involved party, I am certain that dissecting the business entities and the properties owned by Mehran Kohansiek, also known as Mehrzad I. Kohansieh or more commonly known by his chosen alias, Mike Kohan, president of Kohan Investment Group, et al, of Great Neck, New York, is mission critical.

What little attention the "Vote YES!" constituency and local government, not to mention media outlets, have devoted to nailing down this already tax delinquent owner of Southbridge Mall.

In Cerro Gordo County, Kohanis organized to do business as Southbridge Mall Realty Holding, Limited Liability Company made up of four parcels that encompass the entirety of Southbridge Mall.

There is no possible retort to the following documented points:

1. Kohan purchased Southbridge Mall at a tax sale in September 2016 for the minuscule amount of $1.5 million, a Lilliputian fraction of the property's cost and current fair value.

2. Kohan is deeply embedded and is an essential partner in the River City Renaissance project. Of the $38 million-plus project that is on paper partially funded down to the penny with various non-real estate tax funds, Kohan's real estate taxes on Southbridge and the to-be-valued referenda improvements are non-negotiable necessities, should the project be able to make its payments and ensure no citizen tax increases.

3. Currently, Kohan is over $220,000 delinquent on the real estate taxes assessed on the mall, barely avoiding a sheriff's sale on the food court space.

4. If this delinquency continues, future year's Renaissance bond obligations cannot be met under the referenda financing mechanism.

5. Kohan Retail Investment Group, a piece of the Kohan real estate conglomerate, owns, through individual LLC's, 23 malls, all purchased at tax or bankruptcy sales for a pittance of the true functional value. Just as the purchase of Southbridge cost Kohan a mere nickel on the dollar, the additional 22 properties contained in this investment group have similar purchase histories.

6. The most derelict of this property portfolio should be very familiar to you. It is the VF Outlet Mall in Story City and is inactive per the Secretary of State of Iowa. On your next trip to Des Moines, stop by and take a real close look. Then envision what Southbridge could very well look like at the end of the 20-year term of counting on Kohan for on-time and complete real estate tax payments. One other visual should strike you. There will be no upkeep or maintenance performed during this 20-year period. Several similar properties no longer owned by Kohan were wrested from his ownership by city lawsuits and eminent domain actions due to derelict ownership and delinquencies.

I have decided to place some of the burden of fact finding on you. Whether you are aye or nay on the revitalization project, any failures or defaults by any party involved will cost you directly in the form of a real estate tax increase. I hope you have the understanding of your potential risk exposure.

Search Kohan Retail Investment Group. Indulge yourselves and explore around. Stop on Southbridge Mall and view the excessively beautified pictures depicting the Shangri-La awaiting you at this Mason City Garden of Eden.

Since the Kohan Group is spread all over the country, take the time to locate each mall's physical location. Then identify the county within the location state, and check the status of any real estate tax delinquencies that may exist. Remember that each mall is formed under its own Limited Liability Company. Also, each LLC is named in a similar format as Southbridge: (Mall Name) Mall Realty Holding LLC.

If you are really ambitious give this Google search a try; Kohan Retail Investment Group and lawsuit. It is horror stories, coast to coast.

Here is what we face…Right Here in River City…Good hunting and good luck.

J.W. Sayles is a retired university professor and U.S. Treasury agent and also a veteran of the Vietnam War. He lives in Mason City.


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