MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- For the first time in nearly five years, members of the public were able to set foot inside the old Borders Books and Music site in downtown Mount Kisco, as Modell's Sporting Goods held its grand opening.
Modell's, which is taking up roughly 12,000 square feet of the structure's northern section, was filled with inventory just in time for the back-to-school season. Members of the village board and fellow merchants were on hand for the occasion, which included a ribbon cutting. Newly minted staffers were also on hand, sporting red shirts.
"We're thrilled to be part of the community," said Modell's CEO Mitchell Modell, whose family owns the business. "It's been a long time coming."
Modell noted that the business was founded in 1889 by his great-grandfather; the Mount Kisco located is the chain's 156th store. Modell's has received positive feedback from the community, he added.
The CEO's family owns a 50-percent stake in the property, which is located at 162 E. Main St. The remainder is held by real-estate businessman Stephen Lerner and his cousin.
Borders closed in 2011 due to the bookstore chain's bankruptcy. Little did community members know, the shuttering of a village hub would be followed by a long saga that culminated in Thursday's ceremony.
The site's initial landlord, Mt. Kisco Associates, LP, was sued in early 2013 because it failed to continue payment on a $6.3 million mortgage. The suit was brought by the holder of the mortgage, an entity called GCCFC 2007-GG11 Kisco Retail, LLC. Both sides reached a deal in 2014 to allow for the property to go into foreclosure.
The mortgage holder purchased the property at an auction in August 2014 by using a $6.5 million credit bid, which meant that it applied the outstanding mortgage debt as a form of currency to take over the site. The property was sold in June 2015 to its present consortium of investors for $6.25 million. The current investors own the property through a trio of limited liability companies.
Last fall, the Mount Kisco Planning Board gave Modell's the go ahead for its store.
The southern end of the property, which faces the intersection of East Main Street and Green Street, remains empty; the site is roughly 22,000 square feet in total. There are currently no tenants lined up for the other space, Mitch Modell told Daily Voice on Thursday.
The arrival of Modell's has spurred a sense of optimism among some.
"The is an exciting opportunity for the village of Mount Kisco to make a statement," Mayor Michael Cindrich said, adding that the vacancy of the site had a negative impact on the community.
Isi Albanese, who owns Exit 4 Food Hall across the street - he also co-owns Frannie's Goodie Shop, which two storefronts down, with his wife - believes that Modell's opening will be good for local merchants.
"It's going to bring more traffic to all the businesses in Mount Kisco," he said.