Staten Island Mall: Where History and Modernity Meet in Staten Island, NY

The Historical Significance

Before the Staten Island Mall became the bustling hub it is today, its land had a different life altogether. It was once the home of the Staten Island Airport, which opened its doors in 1941. The airport was a significant part of the borough’s history until the site was sold in 1955. A shopping and amusement center was envisioned, beginning the mall’s conceptual journey.

Fast forward to August 9, 1973, the Staten Island Mall opened its doors to the public. Developed by Feist & Feist Realty Corporation, the mall initially featured Macy’s and Sears as its anchor tenants. This was a significant milestone for Staten Island, providing residents with a modern, indoor shopping experience.

Ownership of the mall changed hands in 1980 when it was sold to the Rouse Company. This new ownership led to a series of renovations that included the removal of small shops in the center court known as the “Honeycomb,” the addition of escalators, and the installation of fountains. These changes aimed to enhance the shopping experience and make the mall more appealing to visitors.

Another significant renovation occurred in 1993, with the completion of the JCPenney wing. This addition expanded the mall’s retail space and diversified the types of stores it could accommodate. JCPenney’s relocation to the mall from its long-standing location at the Forest Avenue Shoppers Town signaled a new era for the Staten Island Mall.

Staten Island Mall’s Layout and Architecture

The original design of the Staten Island Mall was a two-story building shaped like a letter “T.” This design included a large outdoor plaza on the Richmond Avenue side, providing an open space for community events and gatherings.

Between 2016 and 2019, the mall expanded significantly, adding 242,000 square feet to its existing structure with new retailers, including Barnes & Noble, Lidl, Dave & Buster’s, AMC Theatres, Ulta Beauty, and Zara.

Another notable change was the relocation of the food court to a newly expanded area, aptly named the “Food District.” This move aimed to centralize dining options and make them more accessible to shoppers.

The mall now boasts a total retail floor area of 1,370,000 square feet, spread over two floors. Macy’s, one of the anchor tenants, occupies a unique three-story structure within the mall. The expansion has allowed the mall to accommodate a broader range of retailers, enhancing its status as Staten Island’s premier shopping destination.

Current Tenants

The Staten Island Mall is home to a diverse range of retailers, from traditional department stores like JCPenney, Primark, and Macy’s to specialty stores offering unique products. These specialty stores include Miniso, Armani Exchange, Adore Me, and Steve Madden. These stores cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences, making the mall a one-stop shop for all shopping needs.

In addition to retail stores, the mall also offers various dining and entertainment options. The Food District features a variety of cuisines, from fast food to fine dining. Dave & Buster’s and an 11-screen dine-in AMC Theatres provide ample opportunities for fun and relaxation for those looking for entertainment.

The mall is not just about shopping and dining; it’s also a place for community engagement. With around 200 stores employing approximately 3,000 people, the mall plays a significant role in the local economy. Anchor tenants like JCPenney, Macy’s, Lidl, and Primark contribute by drawing large crowds, especially during holiday seasons and sales events.

Staten Island Mall
Staten Island Mall” by J dahlia is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The tenant list is ever-evolving, with new stores and dining options frequently added. In 2023, several additions were made, including Miniso, Newbury Comics, and Charlotte Russe. These new tenants contribute to the mall’s ongoing efforts to offer a diverse and up-to-date shopping experience.

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Public Transit and Accessibility

The Staten Island Mall isn’t just a shopping destination and a significant public transit hub. Several local and express New York City Transit Authority buses stop at or near the mall, making it easily accessible for residents and visitors alike.

The bus routes include the S55, S56, S61, S91, SIM4, SIM4C, SIM8, and SIM31, among others. These routes connect the mall to various parts of Staten Island and even offer services to Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Parking is another aspect where the mall excels. With extensive parking options, including multi-level parking garages and open-air lots, finding a spot is rarely a hassle. The mall also offers park-and-ride facilities for those who prefer to park and ride. These facilities benefit commuters who work in other boroughs but prefer to leave their cars on Staten Island.

Accessibility features within the mall are designed to make shopping convenient for everyone. Wheelchair-accessible entrances, elevators, and restrooms are available throughout the mall. Additionally, service animals are allowed, and most stores are designed to be accessible to those with mobility challenges. These features ensure that the mall is inclusive and welcoming to all.

The mall’s strategic location and its focus on accessibility make it more than just a shopping center. It is a central point connecting various parts of Staten Island, making it a crucial part of the borough’s public transit system. The ease of access and the multiple amenities offered make the Staten Island Mall a convenient and appealing destination for many.

Recent News and Events

While the Staten Island Mall is generally a safe and family-friendly environment, it has not been without its share of incidents. A recent event that caught the public’s attention was a Black Friday 2022 stabbing.

Two 16-year-old boys were involved in an escalated dispute, leading to one of the teens being stabbed. This incident raised questions about the mall’s security measures and the safety of shoppers during high-traffic events.

In response to the incident, the mall’s management expressed gratitude that the situation did not worsen. Acknowledgment was also given to the security team and local law enforcement for their swift action. The unfortunate event has prompted a thorough review of security measures to safeguard all who visit the premises.

Staten Island Mall
Macy’s (Staten Island Mall)” by jjbers is licensed under CC BY 2.0

On a more positive note, the mall continues to evolve and adapt to the changing retail landscape. In 2023, several new stores were added to its roster, including Newbury Comics, Miniso, Charlotte Russe, Hobby Lobby, and Rainbow. These additions aim to revive the mall’s image and attract a younger, more diverse crowd.

Community engagement remains a focus for the Staten Island Mall. Over the years, the mall has hosted various events, including carnivals and holiday celebrations. These events provide entertainment for visitors and create a sense of community among Staten Island residents.

The Mall’s Economic Impact

The Staten Island Mall is more than just a shopping center; it significantly contributes to the local economy. With around 200 stores, the mall employs approximately 3,000 people, providing a stable source of income for many Staten Island residents. These employment opportunities range from retail and customer service positions to management roles, offering a variety of career paths.

Staten Island Mall
JCPenney (Staten Island Mall)” by jjbers is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Regarding revenue, the mall is crucial in generating sales taxes contributing to local and state coffers. While exact figures are not publicly available, the mall’s economic impact is undoubtedly substantial, given its status as the largest retail center on Staten Island.

The mall also enjoys a competitive edge over other shopping centers in New York City. Being the only indoor shopping mall in the borough gives it a unique advantage. Its diverse range of stores, dining options, and entertainment venues make it a preferred destination for shoppers from Staten Island and other parts of the city.

In conclusion, the Staten Island Mall is not just a place for shopping; it’s a cornerstone of the community. Its rich history, diverse tenant mix, and role as a significant transit hub make it an integral part of Staten Island’s social and economic fabric. As it continues to evolve, it remains a vital, ever-changing entity that reflects the community it serves.

Staten Island Mall
Primark (Staten Island Mall)” by jjbers is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Comments: 2
  1. Avatar of Courtney

    The S44, S59 and the S79 are also bus routes that travel through the mall and other parts of the Island!!

    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Thanks for sharing the additional transit options for Staten Island Mall. Public transportation access is a crucial factor in the mall’s appeal.

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