|Location||1000 Palisades Center Drive
West Nyack, New York, USA 10994
|Opening date||March 7, 1998|
|Developer||The Pyramid Companies|
|Management||The Pyramid Companies|
|Owner||The Pyramid Companies|
|No. of stores and services||200+|
|No. of anchor tenants||16 (15 open, 1 vacant)|
|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|
|Public transit access||Rockland Coaches bus routes: 20 & 49J, Tappan Zee Express bus, Transport of Rockland bus routes: 91 and 92|
The Palisades Center Mall, often referred to as the Palisades Mall, in West Nyack, New York is the second 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 200 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.
Named after the nearby Palisades, which border the Hudson River and the eastern part of Rockland County, Palisades Center is bounded on three sides by major state routes: the New York State Thruway (Interstates 87 and 287) to the north (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.
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 Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor (who currently operates a store at the mall), and also 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 finished construction in December 1997 and opened in March 1998. From the beginning the mall was dogged by rumors, the most prevalent of which being 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. A managing partner of the mall, Thomas J. Valenti, appeared on a later episode of The Rosie O'Donnell Show, where he performed a song and dance number to the tune of "Cheek to Cheek," debunking the rumors of the mall sinking.
On May 3, 2013, Pyramid announced that Palisades Center would undergo a multimillion-dollar makeover later that month, which would be completed by the end of the year. The remodeling was intended to create a more sophisticated appearance to the mall, which had begun to show signs of wear and tear. The renovation brought about a warmer color scheme to soften the institutional beige of the mall, colored glass mosaics, ceiling facets, and designer lighting. Some aspects of the remodeling targeted specific areas of the mall. For example, the four-story court at the center of the mall incorporates glass handrails and architectural lighting elements, and the "ThEATery" area on level 4 received new tile floors and chandelier fixtures. Other areas had soft seating, custom planters, and plush carpets added to them.
Also, in 2015, the AMC Theatres in the mall underwent renovation. The building was remodeled and the theaters replaced their old seats with luxurious self-adjustable controlled recliners. IMAX also moved into the theater at the time after its former location closed; however, the IMAX theater in AMC does not have self-adjustable controls on the recliners. In addition, AMC added Coke Freestyle machines and self-serve ICEE machines, which replaced the former arcade. The Loews Theaters signage was dropped at the time as well. The theater is now under the signage of "AMC Theatres and IMAX."
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 hurt 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 rather 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 between 200 and 250 stores, including 16 anchor stores, on four rectangular levels. In addition to the more traditional department-store anchors Lord & Taylor and Macy's on the east end, the mall has a Best Buy, Burlington Coat Factory and a Target on the west end. Other major stores in the mall include Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, Forever 21, H&M, Modell's Sporting Goods, Old Navy, Staples & Uniqlo. A Sports Authority store on the west end closed and was replaced by Autobahn Indoor Speedway.
On the fourth floor are a comedy club, several full-service restaurants, and a stadium-seating 21-screen AMC Theatres . that includes a once-separate IMAX theater. Since 2016, the former IMAX site is home to 5 Wits Interactive Family Entertainment Center. At the east end of the fourth floor is an ice rink, which is home to many teams and programs such as 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. The fourth floor is also the entry 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.
On the first floor 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 and was replaced by a modern double-decker Venetian carousel. The restaurants in the food court include KFC, Taco Bell, Burger King, Sbarro, Nathan's Famous, Subway, Wendy's, Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen, Charley's Grilled Subs, Saladworks, Oyishi Japan, China Max, Little Tokyo, Mr. Smoothie, and Haagen Daas.
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 Japanese, Outback Steakhouse, Dave & Buster's, McDonald's, 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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