I’ve been a bit slow on the posting lately, in part because of a road trip this weekend to central New York.
Syracuse is one of the closest metropolitan areas to Boston that I hadn’t yet visited (it’s about a five hour drive) and it was the only major metropolitan area in New York State I hadn’t visited yet either. I was somewhat eager to make the trip because Syracuse is a relatively big market for malls. The Syracuse metropolitan area, with 750,000 people, has at one point or another been home to no less than eight enclosed shopping malls. Today, most of them are dead.
The major event in this area’s retail shift was the 1990 opening of the Carousel Center on the city’s waterfront. The 1.5 million-square-foot, seven-level shopping mall is one of the largest in New York State, and has become the Syracuse area’s primary tourist attraction, drawing visitors from as far north as Ontario and as far south as Pennsylvania.
The Carousel Center’s ascendancy unleashed carnage on the malls surrounding Syracuse, and today only three others: Shoppingtown (the largest mall pre-Carousel), Great Northern, and Tri-County (a tiny, anchorless mall that is open but floundering) still exist. On the map above, existing malls are noted with green circles while dead/converted malls are noted with red circles. Thankfully, Syracuse was also for a time home of Pete Blackbird of DeadMalls.com, and as a result his site contains quite a bit of history of most of these malls. Here’s a brief recap, but they have much more:
- Fayetteville Mall – Opened in 1974, this mid-sized mall was home to Sears and later Burlington Coat Factory. Expanded in 1992 to house Caldor and Cohoes, the mall declined through the 1990s due to its proximity to the large Shoppingtown Mall. Today it is a “community themed” big box center anchored by P&C Supermarket, Kohl’s, Target, TJMaxx, and others.
- Penn-Can Mall – Once one of the area’s largest malls, this “T” shaped mall in the northern suburbs died a complete death in 1994, placing it well ahead of the curve of most American malls that died and were surpassed by others. Anchors included Hills, Caldor, and Sears/Burlington Coat Factory. After sitting idly for nearly a decade, portions of the mall were demolished and the remainder was redeveloped as a large auto mall.
- Marketplace Mall – At one point, Penn-Can Mall was so successful there was a market for its spillover, hence the construction of the Marketplace Mall in its outlots in 1984. Anchored by Service Merchandise, Price Chopper, and Silo (an electronics retailer from the pre-Best Buy/Circuit City era, I believe), this small mall was never a major contender and closed sometime in the late 1990s. Demolition began on 2002 and today it’s a power center, anchored by Price Chopper and Lowe’s.
- Camillus Mall – Built as a plaza in the 1960s and enclosed in 1980, this mid-sized mall was home to JCPenney, Sears, Hess’s, Chapell’s, Kmart, The Bon Ton, and Hills at various points in its life. JCPenney immediately jumped ship for Carousel Center, and began a downward slide from which the mall never recovered. The Camillus Mall was shuttered in 2003 and demolished in 2004, save for The Bon Ton store which remains open.
- Fairmount Fair – A visibly older mall, disenclosed in 1994, and today is home to Dick’s Sporting Goods, Wal-Mart, and Price Chopper. I wasn’t able to find much about its history.
Look for detailed posts soon on the surviving malls, and also on Penn-Can, which has been converted to an auto mall and is (at least in part) open again, even after sitting vacant for eight years.