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               DUTCHESS MALL: FISHKILL, NY

Jonathan Helmers' Commentary:

Posted November 20, 2006 (user submitted)

I was told about the new Home Depot that replaced the center section of the old Dutchess Mall and decided to go down there to check it out. I was also looking forward to going to the indoor/outdoor flea market in the old Service Merchandise building. However, when I arrived, the flea market was gone. The new Home Depot is quite something, but its strange that they left the 2 anchor store buildings (old Service Merchandise to the right, and the old Jamesway to the left) totally untouched. Even the sheetrock inside of the mall entrance is still there!

I recall childhood visits with my parents, only going there because this mall had some specific store that the much bigger and closer Galleria or South Hills did not have. I remember going Christmas shopping there with my dad a few times, and "comparison shopping" at the Service Merchandise which i remember remodeled and walled off the back of the store shortly before moving out. My aunt taught me how to drive a stick in that massive parking lot.

By Christmas 1999, a family trip to the Dutchess Mall to do some shopping showed us clearly how much of a joke this place was becoming. We entered from the main entrace next to the then Flea Market in the former Service Merchandise building. This had been our first time inside the mall since about 1995, and were we ever disapointed.

There was only a "service" business by the main entrance door at that end of the mall; an insurance or accounting business. I remember Drug World, with its over-amplified 70's decor and huge hanging globe lights. There was a Deb clothing store, Treasure Island, and to our shock a Radio Shack no one knew existed. They must have signed a hell of a lease! There was some bank down on the end by the vacant Jamesway building, and a barber shop. There was also some sort of annex of Marist College in the mall near the old movie theatre. If there were 10 stores in there that was a lot. There were also no food places left inside. Lots of vacant stores and plenty of burned out light bulbs and mostly stained or missing ceiling tiles. The fountain was turned off, permanently. There wasn't even any music playing over the speakers!

Within a year of that trip, everything had moved out of the inner part of the mall and that section had been roped off on each end; across from the mall entrance to the Flea Market (Old Service Merchandise building) and across from the old Jamesway building by the other main entrance.

Mara Farrell's Commentary:

Posted July 11, 2006 (opinion column of Poughkeepsie Journal)

Revolutionary War site is in jeopardy

Once again commercial development in the Town of Fishkill threatens the remains of a precious and unique heritage that dates back more than two centuries to the Revolutionary War.

The site, the Fishkill Encampment and Supply Depot, has been listed for decades in the National Register of Historic Places, spanning more than 70 acres on the east and west sides of southern Route 9.... click here to read rest of letter

Chris Lawless's Commentary:

Posted June 3, 2006 (user submitted)

One of the buildings that's still standing (that most recently housed the Flea Market, and Service Merchandise before that) has been undergoing asbestos removal. Now that that's almost completed, demolition will commence shortly on both that and the third smaller building (on the far left as you face the lot) that has mostly empty storefronts except for the aforementioned Citizen's Bank and a somewhat disorganized Chinese laundromat. When I was inside it, I couldn't help but notice how high the ceilings were. I can't imagine the laundromat was the original business housed in there. The ceiling in the bank- which has only been there for about a year or so- already has serious leaking issues.

The May's company still owns far right building as an asset (even though they're in bankruptcy). At this point, the building is to remain standing. Oddly enough there's a realtor sign out at the front, so I'm guessing that someone can come in and purchase an asset from a bankrupt company.

Speaking of which, there apparently was a floral/plant business from Connecticut that was not only interested in purchasing the greenhouse on the right side of May's, but also had the ability to move it lock, stock, and barrel. Ultimately they were told no, apparently because the atrium was built over an Indian burial ground. Special permission was needed to build it in the first place, so moving it would somehow violate the original agreement. This is all rumor mind you, so who knows for sure.

If you look closely, the Home Depot sits atop a higher ground than the rest of the remaining buildings. Apparently there was a basement underneath the Mall, and Home Depot requested that it be completely filled in before building commenced. They were also quite specific about building on that section of the lot.

In addition to all the old campers, trucks, tractor trailers, etc that have been abandoned and parked in the rear of the mall (should be interesting to see how all that gets removed), the front parking lot is used by quite a lot of commuters on a daily basis. Apparently a strip mall is going to be constructed where the two buildings off to the left are still standing, so I wonder if the commuters will be asked to park elsewhere.

Editor's Note:

Posted March 21, 2005

I received several unconfirmed reports that the mall was purchased by a movie production company to be demolished by means of explosives, aka "blown up", for a scene in the upcoming Steven Speilberg movie "War Of The Worlds". This information was false.

Parts of that movie were also filmed in a town called Athens, NY, which is within an hour of our location. --Brian Florence

Jim Ming's Commentary:

Posted July 8, 2003 (user submitted)

Dutchess Mall was the first modern indoor mall in Dutchess County and was probably built to capitalize on its location near newly-built Interstate 84. As I recall, the first major tenants in Dutchess Mall were May's department store ("Every day's a sale day at Mays...") and Service Merchandise. Service Merchandise was a very 1970s store decorated in mostly gold, orange, and brown. The main corridor featured polished cement floors, fluorescent lighting, and a large water fountain. Downtown Poughkeepsie department store Luckey Platt opened a branch in Dutchess Mall, which had a cool upstairs / downstairs boys department. After May's closed in the 1980s, their large 2-story space and cool octagon-shaped greenhouse department were mostly vacant for years. Rumors of a Macy's or Bambergers never came to fruition. Marist college (based in Poughkeepsie) used part of the space for awhile, as did IBM when it needed office space in the Fishkill area. Jamesway didn't appear on the scene until much later - I think it was the late 1980s. By then, the South Hills Mall and the Galleria were on the scene, and were located much closer to the center of population in the area. The indoor areas of the mall were never updated or remodeled as far as I can remember. Today the Service Merchandise space is basically unremodeled, and is home to one of the scariest flea markets on earth. Signs on the site imply that a large office complex is planned for construction. This seems unlikely considering the Westage office development directly across Rt. 84 has never been fully developed. However, retail development in general has boomed in the vicinity over the last 10 years, despite a very shaky local economy.

Jack Thomas' Commentary:

Posted July 2, 2003, revised September 12, 2005

This mall opened in the 1974, and was the first mall in Dutchess County, and the entire region outside of Albany and New York City. The original anchors were J.W. May's and Luckey Platt(a local Poughkeepsie based department store). There was also a strip mall section next door featuring ShopRite and smaller stores. The mall also catered to the needs of the average shopper of that day and age, with Deb, Puff and Stuff, Waldenbooks, Radio Shack, Limited and others.

However, the mall itself had its many flaws from the beginning. First off, the mall was not the most beautiful place in the world. It had outlandish concrete floors, and high ceilings in most parts, and when I went there in 98/99(even though I was only 9 or 10 years old), I had an uneasy feeling being in there. It was just creepy. The parking lot added to the seedy effect, being dimly lit by the extra tall parking lot lights. Also, mall management obviously didn't know much about demographics. While built by the newly completed I-84, the mall was basically in the middle of nowhere. Driving by this area today, you know thats not the case now, as sprawl is all over the place. But back then, it was a sparsly populated area with little around.

The mall did do good business being the areas only mall at the time, but that all changed about 2 years later, in 1976, with the opening of South Hills Mall, which was slightly bigger and had more stores. Luckey Platt closed the Dutchess Mall store, and Service Merchandise moved in. Around that same time, Mays pulled out of its two story location at the mall. This space remained vacant, save for a few other uses over the years, as Jim Ming mentions in his commentary.

In 1987, the big blow happened. The Poughkeepsie Galleria opened up next to South Hills Mall, closer to the major population of the Dutchess County area. Now this was an even bigger blow than the opening of South Hills Mall was to Dutchess. This new mall was 2 floors, with 150+ stores, and 7 anchors, and both South Hills Mall and Dutchess Mall were there to recieve the effects. Dutchess Mall tried to fight back with a new Jamesway opening in the first floor of the old Mays building while the second floor was sealed off. However, this proved to be too little too late, as many smaller stores closed up and moved to the newer, brighter Galleria. ShopRite moved out of the strip mall to another plaza down the road. Service Merchandise closed as well, and went to South Hills Mall in 1995. Jamesway also pulled out that year, as part of their chainwide liquidation. Treasure Island, a craft store chain, remained in the actual mall until 1999, before moving into the old Pergament store next door to the mall, in the Shoprite strip. In 2001, this store moved out of the property altogether, moving into an old Grand Union up the road near the Galleria(which has since closed). Also by 2001, the mall was sealed off, save for the hallway in front of the old Service Merchandise, which by this time was turned into a flea market/bazaar, and the hallway at the other end of the mall where the Charter One Bank and barber shop were still located, but even the barber shop didn't stick around. Charter One became Citizens Bank, but moved out of the property as well.

By 2004, plans were unveiled to tear down the mall, except for the old Service Merchandise and Mays, for a Home Depot(which is seemingly pointless because why would anyone in their right mind build a brand new store between two old dilapidated buildings? And, besides that, there are aready 3 Home Depot stores in the area). I have heard that demolition of the mall has started, and the Home Depot will be open by 2006. The flea market has signs posted saying they've moved to a new building on Route 44 in Poughkeepsie, while their website says they are "closed for construction". All in all, I'd say this mall had a good life, but it was starting to falter at too fast of a pace. Poor demographics, poor design, and bad timing were what killed this mall. With the demolition of this mall, crews may someday pave the way for economy's next victim, South Hills Mall.

Pete Blackbird's Commentary:

The Dutchess Mall, built in 1974, was the first enclosed mall in dutchess county. It's major anchors were Jamesway (a 2 story building, that now houses the United States Postal Service) and Service Merchandice (now a flea market). The Shopping center also has an outparcel plaza, which used to be home to Shop Rite. Also still conducting business in the mall is the Paino Warehouse, Steve Landes' Barber Shop, Treasure Island, Marist College, and Charter One Bank. Operating out on route 9, Hudson Valley Credit Union, and McDonalds both do a ripping business. (the McDonalds is the most expensive one I've EVER been to, and also one of the dirtyest.)

The mall has to be one of the ugliest I've seen in along time. Concrete floors, outlandish 70's decor and strange architectual attributes make this space prime for failure. So when it's anchors pulled the plug on thier operation, it wasn't long before the mall was in a tailspin from which it could never recover.

The Dutchess Mall appears to have never been updated in any major way, yet it boasted common mall stores until the early 1990's. It's doors were closed in early 1999, and any attempt to maintain the mall probably ended at that point also. The parkinglot is riddled with potholes and garbage, and there are some creepy looking characters hanging around the back side of the mall.

Proudly displayed in front of the mall is a sign depicting the mall's future. "Business has a new address!" it proclaims. Plans are apparently underway to turn the Dutchess Mall into the Hudson Valley Metro Centre, in other words, offices. A picture of the mall with a parking lot full of cars was also printed on the sign. Looking at the mall now, the picture almost seems laughable, we'll see if the Dagar Group follows through with this plan.


Bing Bird's Eye View:

The Dutchess Mall from above

Links:

http://www.dagargroup.com/dutchessmall.html - 3/05, redevelopment company planning to raize the dead mall and build a shopping complex anchored with a Home Depot.
http://www.mryamamoto.topcities.com/dutchess/dutchess.htm - inside pics of Dutchess Mall










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