|Location||West Nyack, New York, USA|
|Developer||The Pyramid Companies|
|Management||The Pyramid Companies|
|Owner||The Pyramid Companies|
|No. of stores and services||400+|
|No. of anchor tenants||16|
|Total retail floor area||2,217,323 sq ft (205,996.0 m2)|
|No. of floors||4, plus 1 level below ground parking garage|
|Parking||18,000+ parking spaces|
The Palisades Center Mall, often referred to as the Palisades Mall, in West Nyack, New York is the largest shopping mall in the New York metropolitan area, the eighth largest in the United States by total area, and sixth largest by gross leasable space. As one of the nation's most lucrative malls, the industrial style mall, which houses over 400 stores, receives 20 million visitors a year, and produces $57 million a year in taxes, including $40 million in sales tax and $17 million in property taxes.
Palisades Center is bounded on three sides by major state routes - the New York State Thruway (Interstates 87 and 287) to the north (from which it can be accessed at exit 12), NY Route 303 to the east, and NY Route 59 to the south. It is also located near the Thruway's intersection of the Palisades Interstate Parkway, and is only a few miles west of the Tappan Zee Bridge, which provides access from points east of the Hudson River.
Named after the nearby Palisades, which border the Hudson River and the eastern part of Rockland County, the mall opened in 1998, and is operated by the Pyramid Companies, the original developer and current owner.
According to the mall's sponsoring partner, Thomas Valenti, it took 16 years to get the mall approved and built. The 130-acre site was purchased by The Pyramid Companies for about $3 million and promised to clean up the two landfills, which were filled with incinerator ash and garbage. The 875,000-square-foot mall was proposed in 1985 with a goal of luring upscale retailers like Lord & Taylor (who currently operates a store at the mall), and a promise to keep sales tax dollars from slipping across state lines into New Jersey. The site was selected for its proximity to the New York State Thruway and Westchester County. Its location four miles from New Jersey, where blue laws in Bergen County keep the malls closed on Sundays, was also a factor. Local residents, recalling how the Nanuet Mall nearly drew the life out of Rockland County's traditional shopping villages about 20 years earlier, opposed the mall, predicting that it would bring crime, increased traffic, air pollution, and an economic downturn to the area's downtowns, and that the site was not properly tested for toxins. Ground was broken on the project in October 1993. The mall cost between $250 million and $280 million.
The Palisades Center was built around the Mount Moor Cemetery, a 150-year-old cemetery for African Americans established in 1849 whose stated purpose was to provide a final resting place for people of color, including Native American and African American veterans of American wars from the Civil War to the Korean War. The cemetery is visible from a number of points in the mall, and was undisturbed by construction.
The Historical Society of Rockland County placed a historical sign which reads:
|“||This burying ground for Colored people, was deeded on July 7, 1849 by James Benson. and Jane Benson. his wife to William H. Moore, Stephen Samuels and Isaac Williams. trustees. The cemetery has provided burial space for colored people, including veterans of the American Civil War, the Spanish American War, World Wars l and ll and the Korean War. The grounds have been maintained since 1940 by the Mount Moor Cemetery Association, Inc.||”|
The construction of the mall faced a number of environmental obstacles before it began. What was initially thought to be a mastodon buried there turned out to be a circus elephant. Nesting grounds for a nearly extinct red-legged partridge turned out to be a domesticated pheasant. Other problems included flooding from one of the region's glacier-dug bottom spots and runoff from three landfills on the property.
The mall opened in March 1998. From the beginning it was dogged by rumors. These included the notion that a serial rapist was attacking shoppers, that the developers were on the verge of bankruptcy, that the underground parking lot was sinking because it was built on unstable swampland, and that it would collapse under its own weight. After the 1999-2000 holiday seasons, rumors of the mall's closing abounded. On the January 6, 2000 episode of The Rosie O'Donnell Show, host Rosie O'Donnell, who lives in Nyack, mentioned the rumor of the building's sinking to her audience. Local police, town engineering officials and the mall's developers, however, assured the public that there was no truth to these stories, and that the mall was safe, and in no danger of closing.
On May 3, 2013, Leemarie Dell'Accio, the mall's marketing director, announced that it would undergo a multimillion dollar makeover later that month, which would be completed by the end of the year. The remodeling, which is intended to effect a more sophisticated appearance, was implemented in order to update the mall, which in recent years, had begun to show the signs of wear and tear of accommodating an estimated 24 million visitors a year. The renovation will include a warmer color scheme to soften the institutional beige of the mall, colored glass mosaics, ceiling facets, designer lighting. Some aspects of the remodeling will target specific areas of the mall. For example, the four-story court at the center of the mall will incorporate glass handrails and architectural lighting elements, and the "ThEATery" area on level 4 will be given a luxurious makeover that includes tile floors and chandelier fixtures. Some areas will also have soft seating, custom planters and plush carpets added to them.
Opposition and critical reception
Opponents of the mall have stated that their predictions prior to the mall's construction have come to fruition, complaining that the Superfund site located on the property was paved over rather than cleaned, and that the mall tax receipts failed to lower the average homeowner's bill as advertised. Mall opponent Bruce Broadley commented, "Everything we said would happen happened. Go back and look at all the proposals and drawings. It's a vastly different mall that was built. It was sold as upscale. What they built is arguably one of the ugliest malls in America." These complaints were detailed in the 2008 documentary Megamall. However, Clarkstown Town Board member Shirley Lasker, who opposed the mall, acknowledged in 2008 that their concerns over traffic did not materialize. Valenti explained that the $23 million spent to fix area roads and create the mall's own exit on the Thruway prevented the predicted traffic congestion. Columnist Greg Clary argues that aesthetics are subjective, that average homeowners' bills did not go down due to continued spending on the part of elected officials, and that while the downtowns were negatively impacted by the mall, this is not unique to the area, and can be averted by town planners who represent some of the 20 million of the mall's patrons.
On November 5, 2002, voters in Clarkstown voted on whether to approve the mall's leasing out of 100,000 square feet of unoccupied space, in keeping with a 1997 covenant that Pyramid Companies signed stipulating that any additional leasing would be decided by a town referendum as part of a deal that let the mall take over three town streets. Opponents argued that Pyramid Companies had previously insisted that this space had no practical use when they had built beyond the original 1.8 million square feet they were allowed, but Pyramid insisted that they did not wish to expand beyond the limits of the mall, but to lease space already contained in the building, which would be occupied by Kids City, an interactive educational and recreational center for children ages 3 to 12. Nicole Doliner, president of the Rockland Civic Association, however, characterized Kids City as a "theme park".
New York Times writer Joe Queenan criticized the mall's Brutalist exterior for lacking any sense of design or theme, and characterized its rectangular layout as "a series of interlocking coffins". He also criticized the visible "trash gondolas" near the Interstate 287 entrance. Queenan had kinder things to say about the mall's vast interior, likening its sprawling floors to a retail version of Centre Georges Pompidou, analogizing its amalgamated structure to the "Gotham skyline", and lauding the bowling alley, ice rink and food court Ferris wheel for giving people an opportunity to play "adult hooky".
The mall has four levels, each of which is approximately the shape of a rectangle. The mall has between 200 and 250 stores, including 16 anchor stores. In addition to the more traditional department store anchors of Lord & Taylor, Macy's, and JCPenney, these currently include:
The east end of the mall includes Macy's. The west end features a Best Buy, Sports Authority, Burlington Coat Factory and a Target. Other major stores in the mall include Lord & Taylor, JCPenney, Barnes & Noble, Forever 21, Bed Bath & Beyond, Modell's Sporting Goods, and Staples.
On the fourth floor can be found a stadium-seating 21-screen AMC Theatres, a comedy club and several full-service restaurants. Further down toward the west end, an IMAX theater. Level 4 is the entry point to Palisades Climb Adventure, a five level, 85 foot tall climbing obstacle course created by WonderWorks that allows guests to climb on obstacles while strapped into a harness.
At east end of the fourth floor is an ice rink, which is home to many teams and programs such as the St. Thomas Aquinas College hockey team, the Palisades Predators Youth Hockey team and BUDS for Hockey. The rink also houses a free skate and Learn to Skate program, an arcade, and a party room for birthday parties.
There are numerous dining options throughout the mall. On the first floor is The Cheesecake Factory, which replaced Rainforest Cafe, which was the first of the mall's original twelve restaurants to close, in 2002.
The third floor of the mall contains a 2,000 seat food court with over a dozen quick-service restaurants, a Ferris wheel and formerly housed Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel Number 15, a carousel that was built in 1907 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. In May 2009, mall management announced that the then-101-year-old carousel would be disassembled and removed the following month.
The fourth floor, also referred to as the ThEATery (a portmanteau of "theater" and "eatery"), has the majority of the mall's restaurants and includes several casual dining restaurants, such as Buffalo Wild Wings, T.G.I. Friday's, Chili's, East, Stir Crazy, Outback Steakhouse, Dave & Buster's, McDonalds, Tony Roma's, IHOP, Red Robin, Yard House, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Joe's Crab Shack. East, which serves Japanese cuisine, has been praised in particular. Its selling point is a conveyor belt that moves items at eye level, which can be selected by diners, who pay for them later. The restaurant's Philadelphia Roll, which is made with salmon, caviar, avocado and cream cheese, was lauded by New York Times critic Joe Queenan.
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- Palisades Center
- Palisades Center Ice Rink
- Palisades Center Ice Skating School
- Mount Moor Cemetery
- International Council of Shopping Centers: Palisades Center
- Megamall at the Internet Movie Database