Mall before the fall

"We made her feel good," he said. "It was a gift; we gave her $700,000."

Despite the lawsuit, the mall continued to experience a degree of success.

John DeLap, owner of All Star Driving, a commercial truck-driving school that has been at the mall for nearly four years, said he remembers the shopping center in its heyday.

"It was quite successful when it was built," DeLap said.

"We used to do all our shopping up there."

He said when Weiss enclosed the mall, it improved, but a number of key businesses moving out contributed the decline about seven or eight years ago.

He said Pioneer Bank left in 1998 in favor of a location that had a drive-through window. When Mildred Elley moved out shortly after, it further took away from mall traffic.

Weiss, who now manages other properties he owns, including a hotel in the Boston area, has his own take on the mall's turn for the worse.

In his office, located near the mall at the Comfortex building off of Johnson Road in Latham, there are monuments to his success: pictures of him with presidents and governors, a replica of the Israeli hospital named after him, and a proclamation from former President Ronald Reagan recognizing his charitable work.

Weiss chalked up the mall's decline to a number of different factors. He pointed to the Town of Colonie dragging its feet on an approval for Lowe's home improvement store in the mall, which opened eventually in 2004, to economic collapse and recession.

"Anything I touched was successful until the economy collapsed," Weiss said. "It's a chapter. It's closed. I lost millions and millions there. It was too long for final approval [of Lowe's]."

He blamed the previous town administration under Mary Brizzell for not recognizing the importance of the mall and pushing approval for the home improvement supply store.

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