The following was posted as a comment but I found it interesting enough to stand on its own so here it is (h/t madmirth):
While wandering the internet the other day, I stumbled upon the website http://deadmalls.com/ which lists Amsterdam Mall. While reading through the user submitted commentaries on the mall, it occurred to me that when it was first built, it seemed a good idea. Large stores such as Fashion Bug, CVS, Orange Julius, among others saw fit to locate themselves there. It was only over time that the mall started to loose its walk-in customer base. In recent years, most space was reallocated to business offices, and while many may not go there for ‘retail’ now, there are many businesses and offices there supporting the local economy. If we tear down the mall, as so many people seem to want to do to most of Amsterdam, with no clear cut plan on what to do once everything has been razed, how many of these businesses will stay?
I found this plan interesting, but am on the fence about it…
Jaime Reppert’s Commentary:
Posted March 15, 2005
About five years ago, I was party to a proposal to redevelop the Amsterdam Mall by reopening Main Street in Amsterdam. The idea came from Hector, then principal and owner of Plan-It Architecture in Amsterdam, to simply knock down the ends of the mall and redevelop the first floor as an asphalt street continuous with the existing Main Street. We examined the support column spacing, did measured drawings (Hector probably still has these), and advocated for this redevelopment scheme. It’s a great opportunity for redevelopment. That mall is currently still DEAD, despite its being the north terminus of a $1.4M pedestrian bridge over the railroad to the redeveloped Mohawk Riverfront.
The mall had high vacancy and failure rates. It hosted a NYS Labor Department jobless headquarters as its main tenant! There was some back office bank data processing occurring, and maybe a dentist, but little to no retail and only at the very low end of the marketplace. Mainly the theater drew people. Hector and I envisioned the Amsterdam Mall, also known as Riverfront Center, as a high end retail center, glassed over by the existing roof system in the center with the second floor overlooks glassed-in. The center one of the three catwalks might have been left as an open-air second floor connection. The first floor would be redeveloped with shop windows and doors facing onto the newly redeveloped street, complete with sidewalks and bicycle racks.
The existing attached (and virtually vacant) parking garage could offer valet parking and a slip ramp from the south side of redeveloped Main Street. The CDTA bus would go through and stop in the center of the block-long mall. Birds could fly in and out. Parades could march through. Street trees might be planted. It would be the only mall in the nation with a real main street running through it. Plus it would function as a multimodal center, perhaps including the relocation of the Amsterdam Amtrak station with ticketing capabilities eastward from the current location to the mall/parking garage site. Then all modes of transport, including boats during ice-free seasons, would be supported by the “Riverfront Center” – thereby adding another nationally outstanding feature.
The mall owners, local politicians, NYSDOT, and even Amtrak were positive but lukewarm about the idea.
The other, perhaps ultimately preferable, option for Amsterdam would be to demolish the mall, highway ramps, and maybe even the parking garage and rebuild a traditional mixed use Main Street and street grid. At least we know THAT works.