Olde Lafayette Village in foreclosure sale

Mall to be auctioned off this month, stores remaining open

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For a mall named after the town named after the Frenchman credited with helping the colonialists defeat the British, the Olde Lafayette Village has the look of the small time colonial America.

Its future is in doubt as a foreclosure sale set for Aug. 20 could bring new owners.

For a mall which was once booming in the 1980s with more than 40 stores, the Olde Lafayette Village is down to less than a dozen stores. It still has some attractions though, like the Bass and Van Heusen outlet stores.

For Lafayette House restaurant manager Stacey Frey, whose family has owned the restaurant with the lively outdoor patio on the mall's property for 28 years, new ownership of the mall could be a good thing. She misses the days when a busier mall meant more traffic for her establishment.

Her family owns their building, so the restaurant will stay open regardless.

"It's terribly sad," she said of the mall's descent into foreclosure. "We're not going anywhere."

The mall property is owned by Olde Lafayette Village LTD, which owes $6.9 million to Flushing Savings Bank, according to a foreclosure notice.

A foreclosure sale is scheduled for Aug 20 at 2 p.m. at the Sussex County Sheriff's Office on 39 High Street in Newton.

Multiple messages left with attorney Charles Gruen, whose firm is handling the foreclosure for the bank, were not returned.

Lafayette Mayor John D'Angeli said he wasn't sure what was going to happen to the mall.

"It's a good ratable," he said. D'Angeli said he didn't want to scare people into thinking the mall might close.

"We don't want to see another Schering-Plough," D'Angeli said, referring to the purchase of the pharmaceutical manufacturer by Merck in 2009, which led to the closing of a manufacturing plant in town one year later. "That increased our taxes."

D'Angeli said he just hopes the new owners resolve the complex's issues.

"I hope somebody will step in and make it the wonderful place it was years ago," Frey said. "We miss having the shops all around us. There is a lot of potential here if the right buyer comes in and cleans the village up. It was once such a beautiful place and it can be again."

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