The Rise and Fall of Dutchess Mall in Fishkill, NY

The Birth of Dutchess Mall

The Dutchess Mall, the first of its kind in Dutchess County, opened its doors in 1974. The mall was built on a part of the site previously used by the Fishkill Encampment and Supply Depot during the American Revolutionary War.

This historic site has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since the opening of Dutchess Mall. The mall’s original anchors were Mays and Luckey Platt, two local department stores.

Other significant occupants encompassed Flah’s, a local department store, and Drug World, a pharmaceutical outlet. The mall also housed popular stores like Radio Shack and Waldenbooks.

The Changing Landscape of Dutchess Mall

Over the years, the mall saw several changes in its anchor stores. Mays closed following their bankruptcy in 1982 and was replaced with Gaynes. 1988 Gaynes was converted to a Jamesway discount shop, which closed in 1995.

In the 1980s, Luckey Platt shuttered its doors, making way for Service Merchandise. However, this, too, closed on Christmas Eve of 1996. The vacated Service Merchandise space was swiftly repurposed for the Dutchess Flea Market.

Despite being the sole enclosed shopping mall in Fishkill, Dutchess Mall faced difficulties attracting prominent tenants due to ongoing speculation about a larger mall’s construction. The speculated mall, rumored to be anchored by Macy’s, never materialized.

These obstacles led to a dwindling tenant base at Dutchess Mall, prompting the conversion of a significant portion of its retail space into a satellite campus for Marist College.

Dutchess Mall
Dutchess Mall Entry by Mr. Yamamoto, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

The Decline and Transformation of Dutchess Mall

By 2001, the mall had been entirely closed off, except for the flea market, which continued operations. In 1999, the mall was planned to transform into a business community known as the Hudson Valley Metro Centre.

However, the high costs associated with the startup led to the project’s abandonment. In 2003, a New York-based design group proposed a plan to repurpose Dutchess Mall into a women’s prison.

This proposition was shortlisted in the “Dead Malls” contest, curated by the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design. However, this plan never came to a realization.

Dutchess Mall
Dutchess Mall Jamesway by Mr. Yamamoto, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

The Revitalization of the Dutchess Mall Site

After a prolonged vacancy, the mall was razed to make way for a Home Depot, which commenced operations on July 5, 2006. Only the main mall structure was demolished, leaving the former Jamesway and Service Merchandise buildings untouched.

Alongside Home Depot, the property also hosts a McDonald’s and a Citizen’s Bank branch towards its front. In 2007, the Dutchess Mall became the focus of a documentary titled “Fish Kill Flea,” which highlighted the mall’s flea market.

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By 2014, the former Jamesway building had been repurposed into the Dutchess Marketplace, a flea market hosting a variety of vendors. The property also features a nine-hole golf course. However, by the end of 2019, the Dutchess Marketplace had closed its doors.

In August 2019, Dutchess Community College announced its plans to establish a campus at the former mall site, specifically in the former Jamesway building. This new campus replaced the Hollowbrook campus in Wappingers Falls and was scheduled to open in the fall of 2020 but moved to the summer of 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dutchess Mall
Dutchess Mall Fleamarket by Mr. Yamamoto, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

The Current State of the Dutchess Mall Site and Public Perception

Today, the Dutchess Mall site bears little resemblance to its former glory. The remaining buildings are dilapidated, and the site has become a hotspot for illegal activities, including dumping and camping. The buildings have been deemed too dangerous to enter, posing a safety risk to the community.

Public sentiment towards the mall is a mix of nostalgia and frustration at the site’s current state. Many residents fondly remember the mall’s heyday, reminiscing about the times spent there with family and friends.

However, they are also eager to see the site used better. The current state of the mall is seen as a blight on the community, and there is a strong desire for change.

The Future of the Dutchess Mall Site: A New Chapter

Change is on the horizon for the Dutchess Mall site. Plans are underway to demolish the remaining parts of the mall to make way for a new 350,000-square-foot warehouse.

The project, spearheaded by Crow Holdings, is a comprehensive plan that includes the construction of the warehouse and the development of the surrounding area. The plans include landscaping, the structure of sidewalks, the installation of electric car charging stations, and adding a bus station.

The new development is expected to breathe new life into the site. It is projected to provide up to 150 jobs, contributing to the local economy and helping to reduce unemployment. The development will also contribute to the beautification of the community, replacing the dilapidated buildings with a modern, functional facility.

Conclusion: Reflecting on the Past, Looking Towards the Future

The story of Dutchess Mall reflects the broader narrative of retail in America. It serves as a reminder of the impermanence of commercial success and the need for adaptability in changing consumer behaviors.

As Fishkill prepares to welcome the new development, the community looks forward to a future of growth and prosperity while remembering the mall it once was. The Dutchess Mall site, once a symbol of the past, is now a beacon of the future, promising economic growth and revitalization for the community.

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