Birch Bay Square faces uncertainty

Published on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 by By Jeremy Schwartz

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The owners of Birch Bay Square owe nearly $20 million in unpaid loans, and a court-appointed receiver is now in charge to protect the controlling bank’s investments in the shopping center.

Union Bank of San Francisco took over Birch Bay Square’s loans after the previous bank, Frontier, handed them over in April, Birch Bay Square manager Gary Schaeffer said.

Union Bank asked a Whatcom County superior court judge in November to assign a receiver to take control of Birch Bay Square’s assets.

The mall’s owners, the Ware family and Birch Bay Square I and II LLC owe $19.9 million in unpaid loans, interest and late fees. Schaeffer said he does not expect significant changes for the shopping center’s tenants or customers.

Schaeffer said Birch Bay Square is in receivership while the owners work out a deal to pay back the money owed to Union Bank. He did not offer more details.

The current economic climate has greatly affected the owners’ ability to fill the vacancies in the shopping center, Schaeffer said. According to owners, about 65,000 of Birch Bay Square’s 140,000 square feet still need tenants.