Crossgates chief talks about changes, future

Mall manager wants shopping center to be more involved with the community

Joe Castaldo, the new general manager of Crossgates spoke at the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce's First Friday Breakfast Series on Friday, May 7. Castaldo said he hopes to bring about a more community friendly outlook from the mall.

I don't know what the past relation was between Crossgates and the community, but I am very community oriented, he said. One of the features he instituted since taking over the operation of the mall in February is a community bulletin board for not-for-profit organizations.

He said going forward he would also like to work with the Red Cross to host blood drives in the mall and will consider allowing not-for-profits to use mall space to benefit their cause.

"The biggest thing we have to promote is our space," he said. "There's a big difference between standing on the corner and [standing in] the center of the mall.

He said the 1.6 million-square-foot shopping center attracts 19 million people each year.

A number of local business owners asked Castaldo about the possibility of local businesses using space in the mall.

Castaldo said that he would be open to working with businesses that complement services offered by tenants of the mall.

"I wouldn't want to bring in a competing use that would take traffic away from tenants. It wouldn't be fair to our tenants," he said.

He said that the current makeup of tenants in the mall is about 95 percent national stores and 5 percent locally owned stores, however he said if a local business has a good product, it can survive in the competitive mall environment. He mentioned Hana Japanese Steakhouse as an example. The restaurant will soon open up a take-out location in the food court.

Castaldo said the mall is "really starting to turn the corner" when it comes to dealing with the sluggish economy.

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