But reincarnation may be just ahead. A development group is proposing to demolish a large part of the Latham Circle Mall and build again as the "The Shoppes at Latham Circle" -- with retail, restaurants, entertainment and -- gasp -- maybe a supermarket.
Here's the outline of the plan...
There are large format photos of the proposed plan, and a rendering, above. Scroll all the way up.
Representatives from the Boston-based Grossman Development Group were in town Tuesday to present their vision for the mall to the Colonie planning board. It shapes up like this:
+ Demolish a large section of the existing buildings -- basically the whole middle of the mall. Lowe's, JC Penney, and the Regal cinema would remain.
+ Replace the demolished section with 372,000 square feet of retail space, which would be about 100,000 square feet less than the current mall. Outlying "pad" sites of 6,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet would also be added.
+ Demolition would be finished by the end of 2012, construction would start in early 2013, and tenants would be later that year. The company hasn't shared a cost estimate.
+ This new space would potentially include 2-6 tenants.
+ Grossman VP Mark Hebert says the company doesn't have any leases signed with new tenants -- but it does have two letters of intent from national-level potential tenants. "We've made a good amount of progress with tenants we think will be difference makers." Of course, they can't share the names of these potential tenants.
+ Hebert says the vision for the new development is multi-use -- restaurants, grocery, retail, entertainment -- a group of tenants that would attract a broad crowd of people throughout the week and each day. He points to a development he was involved with near Boston -- Legacy Place in Dedham, Massachusetts -- as an example.
+ In addition to the two potential tenants who have signed letters of intent, Donald Zee -- an attorney for Grossman -- says the developer also has strong interest from a national family entertainment restaurant chain based in Texas that doesn't currently have a restaurant here. He says the chain has been up to see the site and will be pitching it to is real estate committee (apparently a sign of serious interest).
The dead mall stigma
In the presentation to the Colonie planning board, Hebert said the mall has "suffered the consequences of being stigmatized" as a failed development. And Zee added: "Because this site is on the Dead Malls (website), retailers are coming to us and saying why should we come here?"
Zee said Grossman has tried to persuade companies to the look at the site again because its central location in this area -- the "crosshairs" of the town.
Cars, cars, cars
One of the interesting -- if not surprising -- things about Grossman's presentation was the central role of cars and parking. The new version of the site would include 339 new parking spaces, which Zee says a potential tenant requested. He pointed out that national retailers generally seek 5.5 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of retail space. "We could probably use another 100-200 parking spaces."
The car focus also extends to how people get in and out of the parking lot. Zee mentioned that potential tenants were unsure about the somewhat unusual entrances and exits to the LCM lot. And when the possibility was floated during initial discussion of reducing the number of "curb cuts" connecting the lot to surrounding roads, one of the potential tenants called the reduction a "deal killer."
So, a supermarket? Is it a Wegmans?
Yep, you've no doubt heard the rumors about Wegmans and the Latham Circle Mall site. They've circulated everywhere.
Hebert says a supermarket would be part of an ideal mix at the site because of the weekly visits generated by such a store. And there's a "continuing dialog on that front."
So we asked Hebert if the chain that's part of this dialog is already in New York. Yes. Is it already in upstate New York? Yes. Is it in the Rochester area? Hebert said he couldn't be specific.
Make of that what you will.
The planning board presentation Tuesday night was a preliminary presentation -- basically just a way to publicly introduce the idea to the board. There are more steps before the project can move forward -- Grossman and the planning board will have to negotiate a bunch of details. But board members were enthusiastic in their comments about the project. And the developer says it's looking to move quickly because one of the advantages of the Latham Circle Mall is that -- because of its current state -- new tenants could be in place by next year.
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