Review: Crossgates Mall

14 Mar

Albany, New York. USA.

Quick Review

This well-located mall at intersections of Interstate Highways 90 and 87 in Albany, New York has a split personality.

Its Dr. Jekyll wing has some of the nicer stores in Albany, including a large Pottery Barn, a well-stocked Williams-Sonoma, Coach, Forever 21, and a recently remodeled JC Penney, among others.

But the rest of the mall appears more like Mr. Hyde.  Some of the stores seem local; some look temporary, and many have appeared boarded up for quite some time, indicating that the landlord has had difficulty leasing this space.  The recent addition of a Dave & Buster’s hasn’t improved the ambience.

Despite the upscale appearance of the Dr. Jekyll wing, Mr. Hyde’s less pleasant personality pervades the mall.  It provides the ambience for the food court, which features an unimaginative collection of fast food stalls like Subway, Wendy’s, and Little Tokyo amidst neighbors of a nearly equal number of boarded-up stalls, all in an unappetizing environment of stationary, white metal 1990s-era furniture and hardware.

But the characteristic of the mall that creeps me out the most are the omnipresent security guards every weekend evening.  I know the heavy security presence is supposed to make people feel safe in light of an onslaught of raucous teenagers marauding the mall (the Mall of American pioneered such a policy after a serious crime in that mall).  But the rent-a-cops look like under-age hall monitors inspecting people’s every moves.  I was taking a photo in the mall and one of them quickly ran over to warm me that photo taking inside the mall wasn’t allowed.

And the sheer quantity of them and their uber-visibility makes me wonder just how safe the mall really is.  Security is usually most visible in those shopping areas where safety is of the greatest concern.

The basic problem with this mall is that it’s far larger than it needs to be for its market (at least, that’s the problem in my mind). According to the Wikipedia, the mall expanded in 1994 and, a few years later, contemplated an expansion that would more than double its size.  Given the current shape of the mall, the shelving of that second expansion is probably best for all concerned.  But it speaks to the outsized ambitions of the over-exuberant developer and landlord of this mall.  The same company develops and manages DestinyUSA, a mid-market mall in Syracuse, New York that was once slated to overshadow the Mall of American in size and scope. Although some expansion of that mall occurred and the mall was rebranded with a more provocative name, a lack of financing has prevented from the mall from growing beyond the needs of its community.  Telling, too, is the fact that two of the first three malls developed by this company—which were only developed in the 1970s—were demolished, one well over a decade ago.

In addition to the main mall, the mall developer also maintains a big box mall with a two-story Walmart Super Center and Party City, among others.   I’m amazed that it does such a good business; finding that big box mall from the highway is no easy task.

Fast Facts about the Mall
Anchors: Best Buy. Burlington Coat Factory. Lord and Taylor (coming this fall). JC Penney. Macy’s.National chains: Aeropostale. Aldo. American Eagle. Dick’s Sporting Goods. DSW Show Warehouse. F.Y.E. Forever  21. Gap. H&M. Pottery Barn. Williams Sonoma.

In the nearby big box mall: Michael’s. Panera. Party City. Walmart.

Variety of merchandise: Excellent.  OK selection of fashion. But for a mall, the selection of electronics and sporting goods is excellent.

Soft goods for the home in department stores

Special notes:

Security presence on weekends is overwhelming; makes me question whether shopping there is safe.

Food court: Limited selection and out-of-date surroundings.  If you can afford to spend a bit more, check out one of the restaurants in the mall, like Pizzeria Uno.

Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossgates_Mall

Website: www.shopcrossgates.com

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