Crossgates Mall, Albany, NY: A Retail and Entertainment Hub

Crossgates Mall: Proposal and Initial Opposition

In the 1970s, Pyramid Management Group started acquiring land in the Pine Bush area of Albany, New York, to develop a shopping mall.

1978, they revealed their plans to the public, aiming for a $50 million mall on a 175-acre lot. The plan called for six anchor stores, 100 vendors, a food court, and direct access from the Adirondack Northway.

Residents and environmentalists quickly opposed the project. They feared it would destroy the Pine Bush’s unique and sensitive ecosystem. Concerns also included urbanization impacts, increased traffic, and doubtful economic benefits. A public hearing 1978 saw over 300 speakers, most against the project.

Despite this opposition, the town approved the project. Concerned Citizens Against Crossgates, a local group, petitioned against it, and the town supervisor at the time also expressed doubts.

He felt the mall would lead to traffic congestion and urban sprawl. However, the project moved forward, resulting in the resignation of at least one town official.

Crossgates Mall

Over the next four years, the town board only unanimously agreed on one aspect of the project: ensuring the town would receive its full share of tax revenue from the mall.

This approval process paved the way for constructing a major retail hub in the Capital District. Now, visiting Crossgates Mall is a key option if you’re exploring things to do in Albany, NY.

Opening and Early Years

Crossgates Mall opened on March 4, 1984. It didn’t start as large as planned. The original layout covered 975,000 square feet instead of the projected 1.3 million square feet.

The mall had four anchor stores: JCPenney, Caldor, Filene’s, and Jordan Marsh. Out of the 170 smaller vendor spaces, about 80 were occupied at the opening.

Pyramid Management Group, the developer, faced a bustling environment. The mall was their seventh enclosed shopping center.

During the 1980s, shopping centers were booming across the United States. By 1985, around 2,600 malls had opened nationwide.

The early years weren’t without challenges. Pyramid aimed to expand the mall to its initially intended size, but the Guilderland Town Board opposed it. Despite these setbacks, the mall maintained steady growth.

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Through the mid-1980s, Crossgates Mall became a retail destination in the region. The presence of major retailers like JCPenney and Filene’s helped draw shoppers.

The mall’s location, accessible from the Adirondack Northway, also contributed to its growing popularity.

Major Expansion

In October 1994, Crossgates Mall underwent a major expansion. The project nearly doubled its size to almost 1.7 million square feet.

This expansion allowed space for up to 250 stores. New anchor stores like Lord & Taylor and Hoyts Cinemas opened, adding to the mall’s appeal.

A new Filene’s store also joined the lineup, with the original space partially taken by Dick’s Sporting Goods.

By 1996, Jordan Marsh’s replacement by Macy’s added a new dimension to the shopping experience.

The expansion brought more variety and enhanced the mall’s status as a retail hub. Shoppers had access to a broader range of stores and services.

In 1998, Pyramid proposed another expansion. They wanted to double the mall’s footprint again to 3.6 million square feet. The plan included a recreation facility and an eight-story hotel.

However, widespread protests from residents and the Guilderland Town Board led to the rejection of the required zoning changes.

Despite these setbacks, Crossgates Mall continued to thrive. The expansion in the 1990s solidified its position in the Capital District.

Retailers like Lord & Taylor and Hoyts Cinemas attracted more visitors, making the mall a key destination for shopping and entertainment.

Continued Growth and Changes

Crossgates Mall evolved in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 1999, Cohoes Fashions moved its store from downtown Cohoes to the mall.

This change brought more shoppers and added to the mall’s reputation. However, the retail landscape kept shifting.

In 2007, Burlington Coat Factory rebranded many Cohoes locations, including the one at Crossgates.

Caldor went out of business in 1999, leaving a large space vacant. Pyramid Management Group quickly found new tenants.

Best Buy took over the second floor, while H&M occupied the first. This change kept the mall vibrant and filled with popular retailers.

In 2021, Primark replaced Lord & Taylor, reflecting changing consumer preferences. This European retailer brought a different shopping experience to the mall.

Crossgates Mall has adapted to new trends throughout the years and has continued to attract visitors. The mix of established brands and new entrants kept the shopping experience fresh and appealing.

Recent Developments

During the mid-2010s, Pyramid Management Group introduced Crossgates Mall’s new dining and entertainment options.

Maggie McFly’s and Texas de Brazil were among the latest restaurants, adding variety to the dining scene.

Entertainment venues like Funny Bone, 110 Grill, and 5 Wits also joined, enhancing the mall’s appeal as a destination beyond shopping.

In August 2017, Pyramid announced plans to build a hotel with Hilton. By 2018, the hotel, featuring Homewood Suites and Tru brands, had opened.

This development catered to long-term stays and younger travelers, expanding the mall’s attraction to a broader audience.

New Tenants and Attractions

Primark’s arrival in 2021 had already marked a shift towards more diverse shopping experiences.

The continued influx of varied retailers ensured the mall stayed relevant and appealing to a broad audience. This variety kept shoppers returning, looking for the latest trends and unique items.

By 2023, Crossgates Mall welcomed several new tenants. These additions brought fresh energy and options for shoppers. Earthbound Trading Co, known for unique and eclectic items, opened a store.

Urban Outfitters joined the mall, offering trendy clothing and lifestyle products. Lovesac also became part of the mall, providing high-quality modular furniture.

REI, an outdoor retailer, signed a 10-year lease and opened a store. This addition attracted outdoor enthusiasts looking for gear and apparel.

Offline by Aerie, a brand focusing on activewear, found a home in the mall, catering to fitness-minded shoppers. Newbury Comics, known for music and pop culture merchandise, added a vibrant element to the mall’s mix.

In 2024, Urban Air Adventure Park opened in Crossgates Commons, between Walmart and PetSmart. This addition brought a new layer of family-friendly entertainment, further diversifying the mall’s offerings.

Crossgates Mall continues to evolve, keeping up with trends and maintaining its status as a key destination in Albany.

Current Events and Future Plans

Recent events at Crossgates Mall have kept it in the news. A fight inside the mall prompted a police investigation, highlighting security concerns.

There was also a report of a possible shooting, which led to a heavy police presence. These incidents showed the importance of maintaining a safe environment for shoppers.

On a more positive note, March 4, 2024, marked Crossgates Mall’s 40th anniversary.

Celebrations included special events, promotions, and activities throughout the mall, reflecting four decades of shopping, dining, and entertainment in the Capital Region.

The mall’s management highlighted its history and evolution while looking forward to future developments.

Pyramid’s plans for the mall included further development. They proposed new residential units and a Costco store.

This plan faced legal challenges from local groups concerned about environmental impacts. However, Pyramid persisted, aiming to expand the mall’s footprint and offerings.

Pyramid Management Group secured a five-year loan extension in early 2024. This financial move supports ongoing and future projects around the mall.

The extension comes as the area sees the completion of housing projects and the planned opening of a Costco store. These developments aim to enhance the mall’s attractiveness and drive foot traffic.

Crossgates Mall’s resilience was demonstrated by its ability to adapt and grow despite challenges. Its retail, dining, and entertainment mix made it a vibrant Albany destination.

As the mall looked to the future, it continued to evolve, meeting the needs and interests of its diverse visitors.

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