HUDSON VALLEY MALL: KINGSTON, NY
Jack Thomas' Commentary:
Last revised July 28th, 2016
This mall was opened by the Syracuse, NY based Pyramid Company in 1981 with Kmart, JCPenney, and Hess's along with a six screen movie theater.
The mall was expanded in 1989 with about 20 more stores including Sears and
a food court, built next to the existing theater. In this new wing, there was a food court entrance and
two others almost 30 feet apart from each other on the other side of the hallway. The northern entrance
was removed when Old Navy moved in in 1997. The theater was also expanded
from 6 to 12 screens. An entrance to the movies was built to add accesibility
to the food court, taking out an A&W spot and a Hershey's Ice Cream store in the process. Before, you had to walk down a small hallway to the lobby.
This hallway is now used as a service hallway.
In 1995 both Hess's and Kmart closed. Kmart moved to their own building
down the road (which has since closed and has been replaced by Kohl's and a Planet Fitness). Filene's quickly took the Hess's space and expanded the
store. Nothing moved into the Kmart space until 1999. In turn, the northern wing of the mall started to suffer. Small stores closed, and the mall's longtime staple, Burger King moved out. Rex TV and Appliances was put in a space previously occupied by Joyce Leslie and a Kinney Shoes, but that too did not last. Everything righted itself soon enough, when Best Buy announced plans in 1997 to open a store at the mall, along with 20 or so other smaller stores, and a Lord and Taylor built onto the north end of the mall. But alas, like so many other Pyramid expansion plans of the time, this one was scaled back. Best Buy still came, but the rest of the expansion remained in limbo. They built a hallway
going right through the middle of the old Kmart which looks nothing like the
rest of the mall. It has exposed pipes and lights that are a style that you
would find in a Home Depot (a recent rehab of the mall saw these lights get replaced with a more conventional style). Best Buy sealed up half of the
old store in 1999. In March 2001, Target opened a brand new store at the
northern end of the mall, which was originally planned for Lord and Taylor. In October of that same year, Dick's Sporting
Goods sealed up the other half of the old Kmart, which would have taken the place of the smaller stores..
Also that same month, H&M moved into the mall in the center court. Filene's became Macy's in 2005.
Two events occurred at the mall around the mid 00's that have made the news. The first of these events, which happened on Sunday, February 13th, 2005, saw a man walk into the Best Buy and start shooting his assault rifle. He also walked out
into the main hallway, and proceeded down to the center court area where he ran out of ammunition and was
tackled by two mall employees. He injured two people and sent many shoppers, including me and my mother running for the exits to the parking lot.The second incident, which occured in June of 2006, saw the murder of the night manager at The Ground Round restaurant by an ex-employee who was supposedly in trouble with the law and wanted to get his personal papers from the restaurant, so as to evade capture. In the initial struggle, the manager was stabbed 42 times, and the suspect got away. He was close to being captured, but died from head trauma after falling from a moving vehicle some weeks later. The Ground Round was subsequently closed (after only being open a short time after a remodel) and was replaced a few years later with a Buffalo Wild Wings.
Usually crime at a mall means a drop in shoppers and sales, due to bad reputation and a fear for shoppers' safety, but the mall pulled through those events.
In 2011, the mall was sold by Pyramid to CBL & Associates. The interior of the mall was given a fresh paint job, but it wasn't enough. The recent recession and downturn of retail sales as a whole has started to take hold of the mall in rapid succession. Many smaller stores have vacated, and both Buffalo Wild Wings and Friendly's(a staple since the mall opened) have left. The big blows came when both JCPenney and Macy's shuttered in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Sears and Target remain as the only major anchors, along with Best Buy and Dick's, but they have not been enough to draw traffic.
January 2017 saw the sale of the mall to Augusta, GA based Hull Property Group. Current plans are unknown, but the company has said they have high hopes for the mall and that retail will remain the focus. However, smaller stores continue to leave and the general feeling is that the mall will not survive much longer as is. With Sears' ongoing troubles it's only a matter of time. The mall desperately needs a facelift and more attractions to draw consumer dollars. The clock ticks..
Pete Blackbird's Commentary:
I visited HVM back in 1999, and predicted that it would be the next mall to fail in the region. Boy was I wrong! Hudson Valley Mall battled it's new Big Box neighbors with an agressive campain of renovation and additions to the mall. Filenes, Best Buy and Target all call the mall home now. The interior has been freshened up, and there is hardly any remnants of the 1970's to be found. Existing storefronts have been updated, and the empty K-mart has vanished from sight. The mall looks like they're planning on adding even more stores, and the new Hoyts theater has helped draw customers to the mall. The management of the Hudson Valley Mall should be praised, they jumped into action when others would have sat still. Other mall managment companies should follow thier lead. Strong counteractive measures such as these are imparitive. You can't expect to build an enclosed mall and collect profits indefinantly, to remain competitive you've got to provide a clean and modern atmosphere with stores and restauraunts that will draw shoppers away from the powercenters and big boxes. Just one suggestion to the Managment of the Hudson Valley Mall... get a new logo! Please!
Exclusive photos by Jack Thomas. Photos taken 2003 to present day.