Spotlight launches Latham Circle Mall series

The Latham Circle Mall, located in what many people have called the best location in the Capital District, now has the dubious distrinction of being featured on the Web site DeadMalls.com. It has been the scene of renovation, prosperity, controversy, vacancy and legal issues since its inception, but its new owner and manager says he wants to bring the sagging shopping center it back to life.

The mall was converted from a drive-up plaza to a closed-in mall in the 1970s. Before its conversion, it was described by a former owner as a dilapidated strip center.

Eugene Weiss bought the mall in 1973, and eventually sold it on the last day of 2008 to David Allen, who runs it through a subsidiary of Realty Financial Partners based in Virginia.

Weiss said he sold the mall for a "nominal amount."

Public records show that Realty Financial Partners loaned Weiss $21 million in December 2006. Realty then filed a foreclosure petition after taking possession of the mall in 2009 to have the mall sold in order to repay the debt with an additional $4 million in interest.

Allen told The Spotlight he has plans for the mall, which could include renting all of the vacant space to a single company, and possibly repositioning it in the market.

He said he expects to have more details in the coming months.

Weiss said he regrets not being able to orchestrate a comeback for the mall, but said his pockets were not deep enough to do so. He wishes nothing but success for the mall that sits in his hometown of nearly five decades, he said.

"I'm very disappointed I wasn't able to accomplish rebuilding it," he said. "I did it for the town."

In light of the mall's status and pending shift in the retail market, The Spotlight is launching a series of articles designed to highlight the storied history of the mall, its tenants " past, present and future " and some of the more notable issues that divided the community.

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