Irondequoit Mall / Medley Centre / Lake Ridge Centre; Irondequoit (Rochester), New York

We round out our Rochester features with the region’s newest mall, Irondequoit Mall.  Opened in 1990, Irondequoit Mall was located in Rochester’s northeast suburb of the same name, Irondequoit, a town of 50,000 residents located immediately northeast of the city.

When it opened, Irondequoit Mall had three anchors: Sears, JCPenney, and Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann’s.  The Kaufmann’s was originally slated to be Rochester-based department store Sibley’s, but May Company decided to consolidate their nameplates and ousted Sibley’s in favor of regional brand Kaufmann’s.  This switch took place during Irondequoit Mall’s construction. (Is this correct? A couple sources say that Sibley’s acutally opened here very briefly.)

Irondequoit Mall’s design was a modified U shape, with Kaufmann’s as the west anchor, JCPenney in the middle, and Sears on the north end.  The mall was two level, had two main courts, and contained space for 125 stores.  The food court was located on the upper level of the mall, in a court formed by the intersection of 3 hallways.  JCPenney had the best access of any of the anchor stores, having two exits into the mall: one at center court, and one to a hallway leading directly to the food court.  A scanned directory of the mall is located here.

Irondequoit Mall was built by Rochester-based retail developer Wilmorite, the same firm that developed three other malls in the Rochester market: Greece Towne Mall in Greece (1967), Eastview Mall in Victor (1971), and Marketplace Mall in Henrietta (1982).  Irondequoit Mall was built in 1990 to complete a geographic trapezoid of sorts consisting of malls around the perimiter of the Rochester area, with downtown stalwart Midtown Plaza at the apex.

While only 2 miles from downtown Rochester, Irondequoit Mall was built with the intention to draw shoppers from middle and upper-middle suburban areas north and east of the city, like Irondequoit, Webster, East Rochester, Pittsford and Fairport.  Instead, Irondequoit Mall failed and ultimately succumbed to an unintended set of circumstances.  However, its story is interesting and still in progress, and definitely worth sharing.

Irondequoit Mall enjoyed early success in its first years and even embarked on an expansion in 1993, adding Rochester-based McCurdy’s as a fourth anchor.  This store didn’t last very long, however, and was replaced with Bon Ton in 1994.  May Company, which already owned the Kaufmann’s anchor in the mall, purchased the McCurdy’s chain and didn’t want to operate two stores in the same mall, so they divested McCurdy’s to Bon Ton.

The biggest changes for Irondequoit Mall came after 1995, and didn’t even occur there at all.  That year, two other Rochester-area malls expanded dramatically.  Eastview Mall, located 15 miles away in Victor, added two anchors and upscaled to become the Rochester area’s best mall.  Greece Ridge Mall, located 7 miles away in Greece, was a new mall created that year by sewing together 2 smaller adjacent malls, Long Ridge Mall and Greece Towne Center.  Ironically, both of these projects were Wilmorite’s, the same company that built Irondequoit Mall only 5 years earlier.  The competition from these two expansions, combined with a perception of crime and dab of racism, would soon slide Irondequoit Mall into obsolescence.

During the mid-90s, about the same time Eastview expanded and Greece Ridge opened, Rochester’s inner-city mall, Midtown Plaza, began to die.  Shoppers who used to go downtown began to shift their preferences toward suburban malls, and Irondequoit Mall was the closest mall to most of the city of Rochester.  Many residents of the city of Rochester, especially the area closest to Irondequoit Mall, are low income and minority.  In typical ‘white flight’ fashion, the more affluent suburban shoppers Irondequoit Mall so desperately wished to court began to avoid the mall, citing a perception of crime that ironically wasn’t really there.  A whisper campaign about the mall and its shoppers began among the sheltered, white suburbanites in eastern Monroe County, despite the fact that the perception of crime was mostly untrue, blown wildly out of proportion.

With the writing on the wall, Irondequoit Mall quickly began to lose retailers.  After the Eastview expansion was complete, shoppers in Fairport, Pittsford, and East Rochester had no reason to go up to Irondequoit at all.  Eastview was much better, and much closer to them.  In fact, Eastview quickly became super-regional, drawing shoppers from not only its home trade area, but from beyond the region as well.  Other Rochester malls retained shoppers for other reasons.  Greece Ridge held on mostly due to largesse and a unique mix of big box and traditional anchors, and Marketplace Mall’s success hinged on its location near Rochester’s undergraduate population of over 50,000 students.

By 2000, Irondequoit Mall was only 10 years old and already in dire straits.  The beautiful, modern, glassy two-level mall began to lose national chain stores, first at a trickle and then as a flood.

The first anchor to leave the mall was JCPenney in 2003, but by this time the mall’s staggering 20 percent occupancy rate made it already a lost cause.

Rumors even began to surface about a new mall to be constructed in Webster, the next town east of Irondequoit.  This would have certainly been a terrible idea, but I guess the idea was to keep the minority riff-raff from the city of Rochester out of the mix in order to retain wealthy white shoppers.  Not cool, but at least it never happened.

In 2005, Wilmorite finally threw in the towel on their dwindling investment and put Irondequoit Mall up for sale.  Their divestiture of Irondequoit was tantamount to an admission of failure, as their own efforts expanding Eastview and building Greece Ridge were probably the biggest reasons Irondequoit failed, combined with changing shopper demographics and a misinformed perception of crime due to racism.

That same year, Adam Bersin, a Syracuse developer, purchased Irondequoit Mall for just $5 million and a wheelbarrow of tax incentives from the town of Irondequoit, whose coffers had been dry ever since the mall went downhill.  Bersin re-christened the mall with a new name, Medley Centre, and new promises, along with a new logo indicating the mall was “New York’s Shopping Spree”.

One of Bersin’s first changes was to install an anchor to the former JCPenney space, which he did by attracting fast-expanding fly-by-night retailer Steve and Barrys, a warehouse of cut-rate, low-quality clothing, which opened in 2005.

In 2006, Bersin brought a large-scale Halloween event to Medley Centre, which attracted a healthy crowd and filled an entire wing of the mall, but who knows how many of them stayed to shop in the mostly empty mall.  On October 8, 2006, Target opened outside in the mall’s parking lot, but it isn’t clear if Target helped the mall or just ciphoned from it, driving it even more into the ground.  If Target had opened IN the mall where Steve and Barry’s was, using the former JCPenney anchor, it might have helped more.  That fall, another anchor change occurred as Kaufmann’s became Macy’s when Macy’s parent, Federated, purchased Kaufmann’s parent, May, and consolidated all of the regional nameplates under the Macy’s banner.

Despite the small victories in landing Target and Steve and Barry’s, Bersin’s tenure as Medley Centre’s owner wasn’t very successful overall.  Mall directories were woefully out of date, still displaying advertisements that were several years old and listing stores that had long departed; however, some progress occurred in the right direction, as the mall’s upkeep became visible through rebuilt entrances, healthy plants, cosmetic repairs, and general maintenance.  Bersin also expanded the MedleyKids soft play area, so that it encompassed a huge space in the mall’s western court, underneath the food court.

Mall occupancy, however, remained woefully low.  Most of the chain stores left, leaving a weird, eclectic mix of mom-and-pop stores and non-retail entities.  Some of the parcels in the mall were given over to a dog obedience school, an english-as-a-second-language institute, a summer camp, and a town meeting space.  One former store became home to a model train track, and another store was used as a combination travel agency and security guard training school.  So, after you were done riding the HO-scale rails, you could be sure you were extremely safe while planning your trip to Cancun.

Along with the cosmetic updates at Medley Centre, Bersin made a controversial decision regarding the mall’s patrons, issuing a divisive edict regarding who was welcome there.  Signs were posted throughout the mall, especially near the food court area, indicating that cards and chess games were prohibited, which was considered a low blow by many.  I saw the signs when I visited the mall in December 2007, and was puzzled by them, especially considering there wasn’t anybody in the large food court area at all.

Here’s a photo of the rules.  These were posted throughout the mall.

Ever since the mall opened, the food court had been a gathering place for local seniors, who regularly got breakfast and loitered in the mall, using it as a social gathering place to chat and play games.  Bersin’s new rules removed them in order to establish a “family-friendly” atmosphere in the mall.  They asserted the group of seniors, who played games and socialized, actively discouraged others from being there, which I find patently ridiculous.  The new rules created deep-seated resentment from a large customer base, and was probably not the greatest decision.  Who’s to say these seniors didn’t also shop at the mall?  I’m sure many patronized at least Sears and Bon Ton?  Seniors are a strange group to alienate, considering their loyalty and purchasing power, and the grapevine effect probably alienated more people than Bersin expected.  Also, what if some of the food court vendors relied upon this group for breakfast or lunch revenues?

In addition to alienating seniors, mall security also became more vigilant against groups of kids in the mall, banning those who frequently loitered and were seen as a nuisance to regular shoppers.  Mall walkers were still welcome, because they weren’t seen as intrusive to shoppers.  What shoppers?  Many saw these measures as extreme and unnecessary, and questioned whether they would further harm the mall rather than help it.

I agree with policing groups of minors who get out of hand, and this is a big problem at every mall, but ousting seniors from their regular breakfast gathering spot seems brutal and short-sighted.  Seeing a completely empty food court and empty corridors is certainly less inviting than an active mall with people conversing and enjoying each other, even if they aren’t necessarily buying.  To me, an active mall is a continuous feedback loop of success, and welcoming benign groups such as seniors promotes more activity.  Rather than discouraging people from coming, management should have become more creative and proactive in seeking better marketing solutions to reach these people.  At the very least, the presence of people in a mall makes it more welcoming and encourages visiting longer, while an empty mall is creepy and alarming.  Malls should tread lightly on restricting access to benign social gathering, and realize that their role as a social place mostly helps, rather than harms.

Check out these ads in the mall that I photographed in December 2007.  Keep in mind the mall had changed its name in 2005 from Irondequoit Mall to Medley Centre.

In 2007, Medley Centre met even more challenges, with the departure of both anchor Bon Ton and also Adam Bersin as the mall’s owner.  Bersin tacitly gave up on Medley Centre, and sold it to Scott Congel, a former developer from Syracuse’s Pyramid Companies, in March 2007.  Congel paid $4.7 million for the mall, slightly less than the $5.4 million Bersin paid just two years prior.  Pyramid is the Syracuse counterpart to Rochester’s Wilmorite, and has also developed malls throughout the northeast.  Bersin initially remained to manage the property during the transitional phase of changing ownership, but has since left the project completely.

At first, Congel remained tight-lipped about his plans, or lack thereof, for Medley Centre, until rumors surfaced in April 2008 of a deal between the mall and Regal Cinemas.  A Memorandum of Lease was filed with Monroe County on April 22 of that year, citing a lease agreement between the mall and Regal to develop a 66,000 square-foot 16-auditorium theater complex on two levels, using the former Bon Ton space.  The document also leaked Congel’s longer-term plans for the site, indicating a mixed-use project consisting of retail, residential, restaurant, entertainment, office space, and other venues.

Congel’s plans were initially vague, though, and the vaguery led to questions.  Would Congel demolish the mall as part of his master plan?  What was the scope of the project?  How did he expect to succeed with a mixed-use development in a mall that was the newest in town and already failed?  Meanwhile, Steve and Barry’s departed the mall in May 2008, likely a decision made following a March 2008 visit by Steve and Barry themselves, who must have said something like “WTF? Why do we have a store here?”  They promptly moved to a “better” location at a nearby strip mall, West Gates Shopping Center.  Shortly thereafter, though, the entire Steve and Barry’s chain went out of business, so in the end their early departure was moot concerning the mall’s success.

In November 2008, Congel finally released more information regarding his plans to redevelop Medley Centre.  The aforementioned Regal Cinemas would go where the former Bon Ton store was, along with 194,000 square feet of office space, a 421-room, 30-story hotel as the centerpiece of the development (wow!), 330 residential units, and 1.2 million square feet of retail and restaurant space.

In her response to the plan, Irondequoit Town Supervisor Mary Ellen Heyman called it “sketchy”, which we couldn’t have said any better.  Why would 1.2 million square feet of retail and restaurant space succeed here?  The problem this development doesn’t address is that Rochester massively overbuilt its retail options.  The region isn’t in the Sun Belt – it’s not growing that fast, and the problem wasn’t with the structure.  Built in 1990, it’s a bright, glassy, modern looking mall and one of the newest in the state of New York.  Also, I’m not sure a 30-story hotel is needed here either, as most of the area’s hotels are clustered elsewhere, logically clustered near major businesses and the universities.  Residential might work, but I really think that the developer is a little wide-eyed at the possibilites for the site, and should consider down-scaling to a neighborhood center rather than constructing something super-regional, which will ultimately just ciphon from other businesses in the area.  On the taxpayers’ dime, no less.

Nonetheless, in March 2009, Congel received approval for tax abatement from Monroe County, which included the consent of the Town of Irondequoit and the East Irondequoit School District.   After clearing regulatory hurdles, including changing the zoning for the site, Congel kicked the remaining 20 or so tenants out of the mall in January 2009, and sealed the mall.  This left only Macy’s and Sears as the remaining tenants, and they remain open as of December 2010.  The name of the mall was also changed in 2009 to signify its rebirth, from Medley Centre to Lake Ridge Centre.  Apparently third time’s a charm.

With the redevelopment project ready to begin, the only problem became obtaining financing.  Unfortunately, with the economic slowdown of recent, this proved to be extremely difficult, especially as banks are still relatively new to financing mixed-use developments and don’t quite have the process or metrics down to a science like they had for traditional businesses, like enclosed shopping malls.

Meanwhile, in November 2009, the Rochester Broadway Theatre League (RBTL) chose the mall’s redevelopment as a possible site for a new, 3,000 seat Broadway-style theatre.  The new theater would have some on-street parking and a two-level parking garage adjacent to it, and would also include 6,000 square feet of rehearsal or meeting space and a smaller event space for up to 200 guests.  Shortly after being elected, Irondequoit’s Supervisor-Elect Mary Joyce D’Aurizio initially vocalized dissent for the theatre’s location, hoping that it went to downtown Rochester in order to help that area sustain its own renaissance rather than locating it in the suburbs.  However, within a few months she changed her tune, recanted those thoughts and expressed support of it being located in Irondequoit.  Flip flop.

In April 2010, nothing was going on at the site, which at this point was becoming an eyesore, and Congel met with D’Aurizio to chat with her about repositioning some of the tenants in order to reduce remodeling costs, which will in turn make it easier to acquire financing to begin the project.  Congel also had to reapply for demolition and other permits that he already purchased but had lapsed.  Oops, but fair enough.

Then, during Summer 2010, the only major development regarding Lake Ridge Centre was a blow for it: the RBTL theater was awarded to the former Midtown Plaza in downtown Rochester.  This was a boon for that development, though, and for downtown Rochester.

As of December 2010, no work has yet begun on the redevelopment, and the mall sits empty except for Sears and Macy’s, who are still open for business as usual.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the only other recent news is also ominous.  A lawsuit filed in 2009 by the snow removal contract company the mall hired to remove its snow (and Rochester gets a ton of snow) was settled a few days ago for almost $50,000, because the mall refused to pay the company.  Oops again.

Ultimately, this development is a terrible gamble and a lose-lose situation for metro Rochester.  I don’t wish failure on many businesses, and I don’t wish failure on this one, either, but it’s either greediness or short-sightedness, or both, that leads otherwise intelligent government officials to give tax breaks to projects that carry a lot of risk and will add nothing to the region’s economic development.  If Congel fails, and Lake Ridge Center fails, it’ll just be another publicly-financed eyesore on the landscape.

Even if Congel succeeds, and the development is ultimately a success, it will only steal business from elsewhere in the region.  The retail development will cause a dearth at other malls, the hotel will take business from a hotel somewhere else, and the other businesses will steal from businesses elsewhere in town.  Greater Rochester doesn’t need more retail.  There are plenty of underused and dead shopping plazas littered across town, and Midtown Plaza, a large mall downtown, closed in 2008 after over 40 years in business.  Rochester isn’t growing by any significant measure, so any new business is just going to steal from existing development. So what gives?  The only people to benefit from this development are those involved in the development itself, and possibly the Town of Irondequoit if it can improve their tax base and add some jobs there.  From a big-picture regional planning standpoint, it is only going to harm Rochester as a whole.

We visited Medley Centre in December 2007.  Steve and Barry’s was still in business there, and the mall had about 25/125 stores,  feeling very empty.  Some interesting highlights included the fully-intact signage on many dead stores, and the McCurdy’s labelscar that appeared after the Bon Ton sign was removed.  Check it out, and feel free to leave your own comments and experiences.

50 Responses to “Irondequoit Mall / Medley Centre / Lake Ridge Centre; Irondequoit (Rochester), New York”

  1. Holy moly what a mall! Enormous skylights, great roof truss design, spacious corridors, and the best version yet of the million-tiny-lightbulbs aesthetic for Wilmorite. I get the feeling they built this almost as a flagship.

    There’s something about Wilmorite malls that remind me of the LJ Hooker (Forest Fair Mall and Richland Fashion Center) duo of fail. (Thornton Town center possibly but I never saw it.) . And I’m not just saying that because of the deadness.

    As for Congel… well… you’d think New Yorkers would learn not to trust anyone with that last name in regards to mall development.

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    Pseudo3D Reply:

    @alpha, perhaps the tiny lightbulbs and a lot of skylights?

    Maybe.

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    alpha Reply:

    @Pseudo3D, It’s sort of an overall feel I guess of a lot of little things. (The incandescent grated floodlights, similar pastel hues, the pseudo-crystal-palace themes) It’s not that any of this by itself was all that uncommon for the time period, but as a whole there’s an odd feeling of familiarity.

    Sort of like the Jacobs Group / Taubman resemblance.

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    Pseudo3D Reply:

    @alpha, didn’t some of the Pyramid malls have the same thing?

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    alpha Reply:

    @Pseudo3D, Some have a few things.. I think Carousel Center has the tiny lights, but Pyramid malls always struck me as having a slightly more sterile design. (I don’t think you’d ever see those Wilmorite hidden mickeys or brass colored anything in a Pyramid mall.) , and they alway seemed to use tackier pastels.

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    mandy_Reeves Reply:

    @alpha, I have an awesome Wilmorite mall near me. Freehold Raceway Mall. It is gorgeous!!!! This Irondquoit.medley mall looks like Freehold mall before the 2007 renovation.

    It has a ginormous lifestyle center outside of it as well…Anchored by Cheese cake Factory and a two floor Border’s

    There is a nice Apple Store, PF Changs, H&M and a ton of other nice places. Very affluent, but still very nice and welcoming to those of us with less than a million dollars a year in income.

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  2. Is Scott Congel related to Robert Congel?

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    Jack Thomas Reply:

    @Pseudo3D, Yes he is. That gives you another hint as to how this new plan will come to play. Just take a look at the DestinyUSA fiasco in Syracuse :-P

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    Pseudo3D Reply:

    @Jack Thomas, the biggest thing wrong with Arendi at Destiny USA is the way Congel expects retailers to cough up all profits to the mall. Other than that, I’d say it’d work pretty well. Unfortunately, that’s a big “other than that”.

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  3. When you here & read how NYS population keeps on shrinking, a fare percentage of that comes from Buffalo, Syracuse & Rochester do to poor employment prospects among other issues. In that light how is a new mall type development going to be successful there?

    For compareson sake, a new mixed use project in the Medowlands just outside New York City may never open & yet there are litterally millions of people within an hours drive of it. Granted this project I’m describing has had issues from the getgo, but there’s at least a market for it. In Rochester, I cant say that there’s a robust population base to support any new retail projects.

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    mallguy Reply:

    @SEAN, Triple five, owners of Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall, intends to aquire Xanadu…and they won’t be calling it Xanadu. This proposed mall now has new life. It’s their intent to have it open by the 2014 Super Bowl. At least they’re going to repaint that garish exterior.

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    Pseudo3D Reply:

    @mallguy, technically, the current name is Meadowlands.

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    mallguy Reply:

    @Pseudo3D, And I’m glad the name has been changed!

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    Gary Reply:

    @mallguy, if anyone could make the Meadowlands project successful, then it’s Triple Five. They definitely have the finances and the experience to get it going.

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    SEAN Reply:

    @Gary, So true. If only they were the developer at the beginning, none of the crap from Mills would have happened & maybe just maybe we would be praizing how redevelopment in a dencely populated location should be done.

    Ah, fantisy land.

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  4. Rochester is definitely overmalled. It is sad to see Irondequoit failed (this mall reminds me of Freehold Raceway Mall pre-renovation, but Wilmorite designed their malls more or less the same, so it doesn’t surprise me) and it’s surprising that Wilmorite couldn’t better market it.

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  5. This is a mall that never should have been built–too close to downtown which had its own mall. Wilmorite should have known better., given that this was their home turf.

    As for growing sunbelt cities, they also had a lot of speculative mall building. Atlanta has a number of underperforming malls. Growing places where new construction has proven difficult seem to do little better—the DC area had a lot of mall building in the 80s, but none since, although several successful malls have expanded (Montgomery, Tysons, Columbia), several have done major renovations (PG & Wheaton), and some small malls have opened (Reston & Bowie). Still, the deadmalls are mostly restricted to areas that aren’t growing or have gotten poorer. The situation is similar in the LA area.

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  6. Just noticed the outdoor staircases to the second floor. Neat.

    I can think of a few things that could’ve appealed to the undergrad crowd: a college book store, a healthy food court, and an Internet café that’s very tolerant of torrenting.

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    mallguy Reply:

    @Pseudo3D, Must be a Wilmorite thing as Freehold Raceway Mall has them too, although, they are now emergency exits.

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    SEAN Reply:

    @mallguy, Same for Danbury Fair.

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    chris whittaker Reply:

    @Pseudo3D, Except that the mall is as far from the college campuses in the region as you can get and still be in the Rochester area, since all of the colleges in the immediate area of Rochester are south of the city.

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    Chip Reply:

    @Pseudo3D, St Clair Square outside of St Louis has an outdoor stair case. It leads to the food court there. Very cool idea

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  7. Kaufmann’s was never opened as Sibley’s
    Shortly before Sibley’s build the Great northern store in syracuse and days before it opened the Sibley’s sign was taken down and it opened as Kaufmann’s.I think this was around 1988.

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    Russ Grasso Reply:

    @Chris, I can confirm that you are correct. The Sibley’s signs were already on the new Irondequoit Mall store when May announced that they were going to close Sibley’s Downtown, and rebrand the suburban stores as Kaufmann’s. When the Irondequoit mall store opened though, it was as Kaufmann’s. At the time they were transitioning, so their ads read Sibley’s/Kaufmann’s (or it may have been the reverse). I was a Sibley’s card holder, so I used to get the sale ads each week. And I do remember going to Kaufmann’s Irondequoit on it’s grand opening day (at night, prior to closing for the day). Maybe the ads for Irondequoit Mall promoted the store as “Sibley’s/Kaufmann’s” but the store itself was definitely Kaufmann’s.

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  8. Actually, Kaufmann’s did open as Sibley’s for a very short time. I actually have a newspaper photo from 1989 with the Sibley’s lettering on the store building. I also want to point out that Wilmorite sold Irondequoit Mall to Madison Marquette LLC in 2001. They later sold it to Bersin Properties in 2005.

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  9. Aside from the Mall of Memphis, this is perhaps one of the largest (and nicest) dead malls to date. Also, for those not sure how to pronounce Irondequoit, it’s I – RON – DEHH – COIT.

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    Kirb Reply:

    @Gary,
    I’d also put Bellevue Center in Nashville on that list. When it opened (1990ish?) it was pretty high end for the market and had the first Abercrombie and Williams-Sonoma, among others, in the Nashville market. It was also slated to have a Macy’s as one of its original anchors, but this never happened.
    Unfortunately it was built on the western edge of Nashville. Apparently the demographics at the time the mall was constructed indicated that area would grow and become more affluent. That did not happen, it grew, but the affluent areas remained far to the south. Hence the existence of Mall at Green Hills, which is super upscale, and Cool Springs Galleria.

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  10. This mall was great when it opened. Interesting stores, great looking, etc. It’s too bad it’s like this now.

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  11. Seems like a lot of post-1985 malls have been failing for some reason. This one, Forest Fair, Charlestowne are all empty but are the newer malls in their respective areas.

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    Pseudo3D Reply:

    @Chip, could be that older, more established malls renovated and repositioned themselves, and strip malls and lifestyle centers started to kill them.

    Maybe.

    Theory 2: most were established as fashion-oriented malls during the height of a boom era, but dried up after the upscale residents (if there were any at all) moved out toward further suburbs.

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    SEAN Reply:

    @Pseudo3D, Another possible answer may lie in the fact that malls like this one & others built around this time require ever increasing sprawl development around it to keep it viable. More housing units, more restaurants, more big box stores & the like pushing out into the suburbs & yet population trends indicate that urban living is reemerging & cities are responding across the country.

    As a result car dependent suburbs are falling out of favor with many residents. With increasing property taxes, decreasing government services on the local level & lower property values in the past few years not to mention ever worsening traffic congestion, people have changed how they view suburban living.

    This doesn’t bowed well for retail centers like this one. Similar issues can be found in areas like Dallas & Atlanta, but at least those metro areas are still growing. I can not say the same for Rochester & there in lies the rub with these types of malls.

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  12. Midtown Plaza, Where Roving Gangs Aren’t a Problem Anymore!

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  13. This mall looks exactly like Charlestowne Mall in St. Charles, IL. Seriously, it was like looking at photos of Charlestowne in a lot of ways-the biggest difference being the turquoise paint at C-towne.

    Charlestowne is also failing big time-Sears is shutting down it’s location there.

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    Jack Thomas Reply:

    @Doug, Charlestowne Mall was also built by Wilmorite, hence the similarities.

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  14. I found a decent video that looks @ the shell that it has become:

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  15. SIbleys was folded into Kaufmann’s in early 1990. Unlike later division consolidations, May Company had a six month period of name transition during which the advertising read “Sibleys-Kaufmanns” and then “Kaufmanns-Sibleys.” All the store signs were changed in, I believe, early Fall 1990. If memory serves, the building had Sibleys on it at opening and was changed a few months later with the rest of the chain.

    The mall replaced, if memory serves, a much smaller strip mall. The Sibleys store was also an old low-volume store.

    Parking at opening was a disaster until they tore down some Kodak buildings on the property but it was still problematic during the holidays.

    I was in the mall one night when a group of youth went “wilding” smashing glass and overturnng store fixtures. It may not have been the norm but it was bothersome enough.

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  16. One nice thing was that there was always a Medley at Medley Centre.

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  17. I’ve lived in the Roch area most of my 48 years and in Irondequoit about 5 years so I can say with some authority that the Medley Centre is a pretty wretched place. It was mega-cool when it first opened, partly because the big malls around here are all one level, even the monster they made out of combining the two malls in Greece, where I lived before Irondequoit. The one in Greece is awesome for mallwalkers.. you can do a couple miles without getting bored very easily just by walking the whole loop. Medley is two stories with mezzanines, a glass elevator, etc., something we didn’t see much of in the Roch suburbs. The place should have taken off bigtime and it was pretty great at first. Anyone who tells you it died just because of other big malls and not because of the trashy element it attracts seriously does not live in this area and just doesn’t get it but I think all the malls around here got worse in the last few years. I dunno if teens just got more bored or what but crime is up. It doesn’t all get reported, we know by word of mouth what happened and in which mall and what night it was. We gossip about that stuff and I don’t care if you think stats don’t support it. If I personally know people who got chased through this parking lot or threatened with a knife in that theatre then I know stuff the stats don’t know or don’t show. We talk about these things and I personally wouldn’t park my car and walk into the Medley on a dark night alone if you paid me. It’s just not wise. Probably nothing bad would happen but I know it does, local word of mouth, bragging, etc. Thing is, Greece is no better. They even pulled the annual carnival that takes place in the parking lot there every summer because of wilding teenagers, just pulled the whole thing down in the middle of its run, left and said they weren’t coming back, we’re off their schedule from now on. Those are the reasons these places get shut down. Too many bored people with no money just hanging around with nothing to do but complain and make trouble. I got laid off a year and a half ago and still haven’t found work in good ol’ Rochester. They raised my property taxes in IronWest, too.. because it has the crappiest tax base I’ve ever seen and people like me are taking up the slack and getting nothing in return for it but empty malls, no town center, no sidewalk clearing, etc., seriously.. the area is pretty enough but it’s just not worth the money to live here anymore. Of course, I also can’t afford to move now so I just keep plugging along. The whole place is a big whatever to me and hopefully someday I will be able to move away and stop wasting my money here.

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  18. mall looks so similar to freehold but wow why so empty even opened the same year as this mall,but freehold is still going strong

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  19. The reason Irondequoit Mall closed was due to gangs. Which inturn caused them to go Greece where Greece needed to implement a curfew for those under 18 – Greece never had a problem until Irondequoit closed their doors and inturn caused the gangs to come over 104.

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  20. /\…..Orrrrrrr the city is expanding outward even more toward neighboring suburbs.

    I used to shop there when I was younger and I never had any problems. My family and friends would shop there all the time and never had any problems either. But you always heard stories of a friend of someones friend getting attacked or robbed. Crime happens anywhere and they just didn’t do a good job of squashing rumors and putting a real end to issues if there were “gangs” that hung out there. They were afraid that the Greece mall would suffer the same fate so they put in measures to make sure it doesn’t…like the curfew.

    Its too bad, I hope someone can rebuild it into something useful soon.

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  21. I opened a store in the Irondequoit Mall. Sibley’s opened as Kauffmans.
    My store witch was under 2400 sq feet did a little under 1 million. We beat the big Buffalo Mall two years in a row.

    There was no gangs and anything that happened at Irondiquoit happened at the other Malls in Rochester.
    Parking was a problem but the mall bought the old Kodak bldg and added that as parking.

    It’s sad because even now that mall is better looking that Greece Ridge Center and Marketplace.

    The comment that there are to many malls is correct. But Wilmorite was greedy and did not want another developer to enter into the Rochester market and build. Thus the reason for Irondequoit Mall. It was built to be a fashion mall with stores not located in other malls. That never happened. Actually the mall always had unfinished boarded up store fronts with dirt floors. I know, I worked in that mall for years.

    It’s sad to say but Irondequoit has out lived it use and should probably be demolished.

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  22. This look like the Charlestowne mall in St. Charles IL. Same (first) owner. Charlestowne got bought in June 2010, and now they are taking out stores to put in an ice skating rink. Also they are putting in a high end (sit down) sushi buffet. Renevation will hopefully be great. Maybe they should do something like that hear? Put a Dave and busters in a anchor store or something. This mall has way to much potential. Think outside the box

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  23. @Dave, I worked for Sibleys. The store sign had been put up before the opening in 1990, but they took it off and put up the kaufmanns signs before the actual opening day. It was so sad the day they did this. Sibleys buying staff had actually purchased all the goods for the opening, and once they announced the closing of Sibleys we spent our days there setting it up and unpacking boxes, and watching them change the sign. It sucked. I find it so ironic that the mall ruined the culver ridge strip mall, which seems to be the winner now.

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  24. I did work in Rochester in 200…trying to remember…4? And was basically told by someone at the management company that they were intentionally running the mall into the ground as a part of their corporate strategy. They wanted to divest themselves of it and for some reason, getting rid of key tenants was what they did. (I’d think you’d want nice tenants to make the value for the mall higher…but that’s just me.) If this person was right, they basically were not renewing leases–so it wasn’t that the mall didn’t have enough customers to attract retailers, but that the management didn’t want to have successful retail.

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  25. This mall looks almost the same, if not identical to Charlestowne Mall in St. Charles, IL, built around 1990 which is also dying. The hundreds of incandecent light fixtures are the same, the flooring is nearly similar, and the center area where the water is present is similar, except Charlestowne has drained it and is being used for community events. I noticed that Charlestown Mall has not been visited/reviewed by labelscar, however, deadmalls.com has an article and I snapped a bunch of pictures earlier this year if / when an article is posted here. Just reach out to me for my pictures mid-2012. I also live 1 mile from the Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, IL (Westfield) which is alive and well, and heavily photographed by me in 2011. Also not on labelscar.

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  26. Does anyone know if you can still enter the mall itself? I know that the only open stores are Sears and Macys, and they both have glass walls over the mall entrances now, but I’d like to someday go through the place with a camera before it gets demolished or destroyed. I grew up with good memories of this mall, but haven’t been back in years, so one last look would be a good way to part.

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  27. Macy’s is closing its location in April. http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/money/business/2014/01/08/macys-to-close-medley-centre-store/4374783/

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  28. Medley Centre just suffered a major blow, as Macy’s announced it is closing its store there and four others nationwide:

    http://nashua.patch.com/groups/business-news/p/macys-inc-announces-store-closures-consolidation

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  29. wow I remember riding mini bikes on the land before it was built, watched them build it, beautiful mall. It was always packed more then any other, great stores and food…then….the inner city criminals also found a way there, city bus killed it…muggings, carjackings, theft, even abductions of old folks !! yup…that is what killed it I grew up and went to school just down the street and saw it all happen, sad sad thing crime can do…lol in fact went to school with a guy that lived in the house recently torn down next to applebee”s

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