Board candidates question future of Niskayuna mall

"When the economy picks up, [St. James Square] will pick up," said Landry. "Right now we have no loss. We're getting the taxes now. There is a portion of it that's vacant, but what people overlook is that there are a lot of viable businesses in there."

Liz Orzel-Kasper, a Niskayuna Town Board member, said that people ask her all the time what's happening with the shopping center.

"When this was proposed, I was very concerned about putting this up because I thought, 'This is the center of town, and I hate to see blacktop,'" said Kasper. "He was very convincing to the planning board and the people that he had a lot of tenants lined up. When someone owns land, they can develop it within the law and he could develop it into whatever he felt as far as commercial spaces goes."

Kasper said that at the time the development proposal received mixed reaction. The original proposal, according to Kasper, was for something that included upscale boutiques and dress shops.

"It sounded like it might go, but I never felt that we could be another Stuyvesant Plaza. We were not close enough to a large enough population that would support these very fine upscale stores," said Kasper.

Kasper said that even though the supermarket was a large draw for business and traffic, retailers and restaurants didn't want to pay rents that were, according to Kasper, high. Prospective tenants also didn't like that part of the shopping center was not located off a main road. They wanted visibility from street traffic. There was also an issue with signage.

"We didn't want it to be Neon-signville," she said.

She said that she is sure that the Metroplex is working to help the property attract the tenants it needs to thrive.

She mentioned Mohawk Mall, which was booming years ago but faltered before coming back for a huge revival as Mohawk Commons in recent years.

"It's beautiful," said Kasper of Mohawk Commons. "I think malls are cyclical."


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