MIDTOWN PLAZA: ROCHESTER, NY
Gabriel Pellegrino's Commentary:
Posted January 28, 2006 (user submitted)
Midtown Plaza was opened in April of 1962 as the nation's first enclosed downtown mall. See below for a link
to its web site.
The mall still has plenty of traffic on weekdays from local office workers, but is no longer open evenings and has less traffic on weekends. The Clock of the Nations is still the centerpiece of the mall. Each hour from 1 to 12 represents a different nation, and music representing the corresponding nation is played on its hour and half-hour. There is talk about razing the mall and redeveloping downtown. Rather than seeing the mall go, many of us would prefer to see it restored. Too many redevelopment projects have failed, and this mall is still one of the last remaining viable retail areas downtown, even if many stores are vacant. Peebles Department store has been a great addition to the mall, and apparently is successful for the amount of traffic it receives.
Michael LaMastra's Commentary:
Posted May 14, 2005 (user submitted April 3, 2004)
I was in downtown Rochester for DECA( A High School Marketing Club's) State
Career Conference in the Rochester Riverside Convention Center right across
the street when I came across this dead, rotting piece of retail.
From research, this mall opened in 1967 as the nation's first "Urban Mall", a concept which has not proven too successful of recent. The mall served as a passageway between two of Rochester's most popular department stores, McCurdy's and B. Forman. Both left in the early 90s leaving the mall essentially anchorless. The first floor of B. Forman is now a Peebles ( a T.J. Maxx knockoff), and McCurdy's space is split between a Chinese Buffet and some offices.
The first thing that bothered me about this place was its putrid smell. It smelled like moldy popcorn which I found emitted from a first floor kiosk called "Abbot's Frozen Custard", although it seemed like a cheap snack bar. THe mall is all decked out with bright yellow floor tiles keeping it 1975 all year round. There is very little in the way of shoppable stores. A few exceptions were for Foot Locker, Radio Shack, Rite Aid, Payless, Hallmark, A Dollar, Foxmoor, Rainbow Kids, and a large record store which had a great selection of rare and used music as well as posters and other goodies. Other than that, the mall was mostly vacant. The food court which featured Arby's, Burger King, a pizza shop, Brueggers, and Bill Gray's seemed to be doing pretty well, although it was mostly from XEROX and Frontier Communication employees whose offices were connected to the mall.
The mall also has a loyal following of local stores such as Christian Science Bookroom, c3 (clothing), and Fauna's Collectibles. Fauna herself ran the place and had several good stories about her high school career as well as DECA. It seemed like going to my grandmother's house..almost. Anyway, this place cannot probably be demolished for a Wal-MArt like the other dying retail properties because it is right in the middle of Rochester's Downtown Skyway and is connected to virtually everything else in downtown without having to go outside. As long as there are a steady supply of office employees nearby to drop by on their lunch break, this mall will probably stand as a good example of what a dead mall looks like. It would be interesting though, they should put in historical marks to point out things that used to be there and make it into a "museum of dead malls of sorts"
David Avery's Correction:
Posted October 18, 2005 (user submitted)
Michael LaMastra states in his commentary of Midtown Plaza in Rochester, New York that "the first floor of B. Forman is now a Peebles (a T.J. Maxx knockoff), and McCurdy's space is split between a Chinese Buffet and some offices."
This is completely incorrect. Peebles is actually W. S. Peebles and Company, a South Hill, Virginia department store currently owned by Specialty Retailers, Inc., of Houston, Texas.
It has never been, nor will it ever be, a "knockoff" of TJMaxx or Marshall's. Their website states: "More than 110 years ago, in a small but booming railroad community in southside Virginia, W. S. Peebles, Sr., opened his first department store. The year was 1891, and the town was Lawrenceville. This first Peebles Department Store immediately met with great success. Customers appreciated Mr. Peebles' personal approach to service, along with the value of his merchandise, which ranged from farm implements to produce to fine apparel. Over the years, the store prospered and grew, and by 1930, two more stores had been opened along the Atlantic and Danville Railroad line." The company moved to South Hill, VA, in 1985.
The history of Peebles concludes with this: "Peebles is recognized nationally as one of the best managed and most successful department stores of its size. The basis of the company's success is the continuation of W. S. Peebles' 1891 philosophy: Personal attention and great customer service. At Peebles, no matter how far we expand, our commitment to our customers and associates will always be our top priority."
Please make this correction to the page regarding Midtown Plaza so that no other reader will take Mr. LaMastra's comment as truth.
www.MidTownRochester.com - Mall's website