"Eat, Shop, Play"
|Location||Cheektowaga, New York, USA|
|Developer||The Pyramid Companies|
|Owner||The Pyramid Companies|
|No. of stores and services||250|
|No. of anchor tenants||10|
|Total retail floor area||1,600,000 square feet (150,000 m2)|
|No. of floors||2|
Walden Galleria is an upscale shopping mall located in the town of Cheektowaga, a suburb of Buffalo, New York located east of I-90 and New York State Thruway Exit 52 off of Walden Avenue New York State Route 952Q.The Walden Galleria comprises more than 1,600,000 square feet (150,000 m2) of retail space, with 250 stores on two levels, including a food court and a movie theater. The Galleria has department stores, JCPenney, Macy's, and Lord & Taylor; with additional anchors including Best Buy, Dick's Sporting Goods, DSW Shoe Warehouse, Forever 21, Old Navy, and a Regal Cinemas multiplex. The mall is owned and managed by The Pyramid Companies of Syracuse, New York, the same management firm that developed it.
Opened in 1989, Walden Galleria initially featured national chains JCPenney and Sears, along with regional chain Bonwit Teller, and local chains Sibley's, L. L. Berger, and The Sample as its major tenants; the bankruptcies of these chains in the 1990s made way for several big-box stores. Anchors Lord & Taylor and Galyan's (now Dick's Sporting Goods) were later additions to the existing mall property, opening in 1992 and 2000, respectively. The most recent renovation to Walden Galleria comprised an extensive $60 million renovation between 2006 and 2008, which added several new tenants, as well as a new theater adding 250,000 square feet of retail.
Walden Galleria was developed by The Pyramid Companies, a New York-based shopping center management firm. Built on a site near Exit 52 of the New York State Thruway, the mall was opened in 1989. At the time, the mall featured six anchor stores: national chains JCPenney, and Sears, regional chain Bonwit Teller, and three Western New York chains: Sibley's, L. L. Berger, and The Sample. Sibley's opened in late 1988, several months before the rest of the mall. An additional anchor space was originally built for B. Altman and Company, but it remained vacant, as the chain decided not to open the Walden Galleria store due to credit restraints. At the time, the two-story mall also featured more than 150 stores, as well as a theater owned by Hoyts Cinemas.
In 1990, Sibley's parent, May Co., merged operations with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Kaufmann's. That same year, local chain AM&A's (Adam, Meldrum & Anderson Company) moved from the nearby Thruway Mall into the space originally planned for B. Altman. The owner of the Thruway Mall sued the AM&A's chain, claiming breach of contract; the chain would later be declared liable for damages to the Thruway Mall, which was subsequently torn down and rebuilt as a strip mall in the early 1990s. Finally, Hoyts sold the Walden Galleria theater complex to General Cinemas by the end of the year.
L. L. Berger declared bankruptcy in 1991, closing all of its stores. Later that same year, three more anchor stores were added to the mall: Lechmere, Loehmann's, and Lord & Taylor. The Sample closed in 1991, and was soon replaced with Linens & Wares, a household goods-based retailer; also, by the end of the year, Filene's Basement would open in the former L. L. Berger space. Both Filene's Basement and Loehmann's would close within three years.
In 1995, York, Pennsylvania-based department store chain The Bon-Ton acquired the AM&A's chain, converting all outlets to The Bon-Ton. Later that year, on December 14, 17-year-old Cynthia Wiggins of Buffalo was struck by a dump truck while trying to get to her first day of work in the mall's food court from a NFTA Metro bus stop on Walden Avenue. The incident sparked allegations from Buffalo's African-American community that Pyramid did not want people from Buffalo's predominantly minority East Side to have easy access to the mall. In settling a wrongful death claim against Walden Galleria and NFTA Metro and to prevent a boycott of the mall, the bus stop was soon moved to a point inside the mall, where it remains today. Bonwit Teller closed off its upper level in 1996 as part of the chain's restructuring, with Old Navy soon opening in the store's former upper level. By the end of the year, Bonwit Teller had closed the rest of its store as well, with the lower level becoming the area's first Bed Bath & Beyond store in 1997. Also in 1996, sporting apparel retailer Finish Line opened what was then one of its largest stores, in the space vacated by Filene's Basement two years previous.
Montgomery Ward, which acquired the Lechmere chain in 1994, closed the last of the Lechmere stores nationwide in 1998, as part of a corporate restructuring. After its closure, half of the former Lechmere was then converted to a home store for JCPenney, while the other half sat vacant until DSW Shoe Warehouse replaced it in 1999. Linens 'n Wares, which closed at some point in the late 1990s, was converted to a home store for Kaufmann's in 1999 as well. One year later, a Galyan's Trading Company store was added onto the mall as well, with this store being renamed Dick's Sporting Goods in 2004 following the acquisition of the Galyan's chain.
Starting in 2000, the first of several renovation plans was announced for the mall. The initial plan called for the addition of a new, three-story wing with an eighteen-screen movie theater complex, as well as several upscale tenants. Under this proposal, the existing Sears store would have been converted to mall space, and a new Sears store built immediately behind it. These expansion plans never came to fruition. By 2002, General Cinemas had sold the mall's theater complex to AMC Theatres. One year later, Pyramid made a failed attempt to evict the theaters for a Best Buy store, although Best Buy opened a store at the mall next to Sears in 2006. AMC closed the mall's theaters in 2004 and only four days after closing, the theater complex was acquired and reopened by Regal Entertainment Group. The JCPenney Home Store closed in 2002.  Kaufmann's was one of several former May Co. brands to be acquired and renamed by Macy's in 2005, and while the main Kaufmann's store was converted to Macy's, the Home Store was shuttered. Also in 2006, The Bon-Ton closed.
With the closure of The Bon-Ton in 2006, plans were once again announced to expand the Walden Galleria. Under these new plans, The Bon-Ton's former store was demolished for a concourse composed of more than 250,000 square feet (23,000 m2) of new retail space. The mall's existing theater complex, which was located next to The Bon-Ton, was also demolished for a newer, larger theater complex, which opened at the end of May 2008. Barnes & Noble was planned for the former theater space, but never opened. Several new restaurants, including The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang's China Bistro and The Melting Pot, were also added, as were new tenants such as The Walking Company, Oakley, Urban Outfitters, Sephora and Coach. On January 14, 2011, two new stores were announced to join the lineup at the Walden Galleria-- H&M and Anthropologie, the latter of which opened up in a small location next to the former. It was announced in 2011 that Michael Kors would also open at the mall.
Walden Galleria is the largest mall in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area, as well as the busiest, with more than 18 million shoppers annually, from both Canada and the United States. Its anchor stores as of 2014 are Sears, JCPenney, Macy's, and Lord & Taylor. In 2013, new Italian Marble floors, lounge areas and lighting fixtures were installed throughout the mall. The mall also offers a valet parking service. Currently the old main entrances are being updated to reflect the newer addition to the mall. Some of the mall's newest additions include Pole Position Raceway Indoor Go-Karting, lululemon, Sperry Top Sider, and Texas De Brazil. In November 2014, the mall was involved in a controversy regarding stores being fined for deciding not to open on Thanksgiving Day. The mall owners threatened to fine stores $200 an hour if they remain closed on the holiday. On November 17, 2014, it was announced that Dave and Buster's will be moving into the mall from the nearby Eastern Hills Mall in the fall of 2015, with a 30,000 square foot addition to the mall planned to be built in between Macy's and Lord and Taylor to accommodate the restaurant.
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