Brad Barris's Commentary

Posted April 24, 2011 (user submitted)

Champlain(e) Center South in Plattsburgh, NY was built by Pyramid Company in the mid-70s and was originally known as the Pyramid Mall until Champlain Center North was built across the street in the late 1980s.

Pyramid Mall was shaped like a widened and flattened W. It was anchored on the west arm by K-Mart, at the south apex by JC Penney, and on the east arm by Montgomery Ward. (A large Price Chopper supermarket was located in a separate building just north of the K-Mart end of the mall.) The parcel that it was on sloped somewhat downhill to the east, so there were occasional ramps and staircases to navigate as you moved west to east. These became both visual and traffic choke points that made navigating the mall during busy seasons somewhat challenging. There was a small fountain in the open area just in front of JC Penney, and a small open area occasionally used for fashion shows, Santa's workshop displays, and other mall events. Lighting was always fairly dim by mall standards.

Stores were mostly independent and regional chains, with a few national chains mixed in. Moving from west to east, I can recall (among many others I've forgotten):

Marigolds (might have been Daffodils -- my memory is failing me), an independent women's clothing store with 2 entrances, one across from K-Mart and one facing the short center arm of the mall (near the small point of the W). The space was large enough that it had to follow the slope of the land, so Marigolds had an internal staircase (no elevators/escalators. Pre-ADA) leading up to the upper level near K-Mart. Gibson Girl ice cream parlor with 1920's decor. Space later housed a Sbarro's.

Cahill's Sporting Goods.

Fay's Drugs in a fairly large space.

A tiny GNC (then mostly a natural foods/vitamin store) in a narrow space across from Fay's. Offered free samples of fresh groud peanut butter and weird-tasting fruit juices.

Next door to the GNC was a small video arcade, and next to that was Ye Olde Smoke Shoppe, a pipe and tobacco store.

This brought you to the base of the W and JC Penneys. If you were to turn and head north towards the center mall exit (the middle prong of the W), you'd pass a number of stores that changed owners frequently, a Radio Shack that hung on forever just inside the center entrance (across from the other entrance to Marigolds) and a bank of orange coin-operated lockers that I never saw used. In later years, the video arcade was moved to a larger space in this area, next door to Radio Shack.

On the east side of the W, in the space equivalent to Marigolds (i.e. the empty space between the main east arm of the W and the small central arm), there was a two-screen movie theater, accessible only from the exterior of the mall.

Starting back at JC Penney (later became a TJ Maxx) and then working towards Montgomery Wards to the east: Record Town (not a Strawberries -- don't recall Plattsburgh ever having one of those) Friar Tuck Book Shop, with customized palm-frond awning Kay-Bee Toys Anderson-Little men's clothing a sit-down restaurant space that never really caught on and changed operators numerous times over the years. Was turned into a dodgy nightclub called "Tingle's" just before the mall closed down. Pyramid Mall was built before the notion of "food courts" became common.

Jack Thomas' Commentary:

Revised June 12, 2009 (user submitted)

I had never been to this mall, but I do know some of the history from talking to some Pyramid officials who work at my hometown's Hudson Valley Mall.

Champlain Centre opened in 1975 with JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, and a Kmart. Other notable stores that were in the mall were a Fays Drugs Superstore, Payless Shoe Store, Red Lobster, and a record store that my Dad went to when he was younger, probably Strawberries.
[Brian's note: I've been to that record store. In 1996 I bought the cassette single of Robert Miles' "Children" for 99 cents. I'll have to find the receipt.]

Looking at this mall's layout, I noticed it was a very small mall with very narrow hallways, as Pete mentions in his commentary. It is also shaped like a triangle. It was one of Pyramid's original malls, and was a bustling mall in it's day, thanks in part to the Plattsburgh Air Force Base and many Canadian shoppers who came to shop. In 1987 however, things changed with the opening of the new, bigger, and brighter Champlain Centre North less than a mile away. With the new mall being practically right across the street, businesses moved out of the old darker mall pretty fast. JCPenney moved to the new mall immediately. The new mall also brought in Sears, a newcomer to the Plattsburgh area.

This mall went from "bustling to bust" in about a year and a half. Soon, everything was demolished exept the Kmart and the Montgomery Ward, plus the Red Lobster.

A few years later, the mall transformed into a plaza anchored by a new Price Chopper where the JCPenney once sat. Montgomery Ward closed and was demolished for a Lowes Home Improvement Store. Other new tenants include Petco, Micheals, and Applebees, and many others.

This new plaza is actually starting to slowly kill off the Champlaine Centre North. I've seen the plans for Champlain North also. There are a lot of vacancies. Who knows, maybe somday we'll write stuff up about that place.

Pete Blackbird's Commentary:

I think Pyramid ownes the Champlain Twins. In Plattsburgh, NY they overestimated the buying power of the Canadians, and improperly assumed that the Airforce bace was permanent. Champlain Centre, was constructed in the 1970's and housed a JCPenney, Sears, and K-Mart. There were provisions for many small stores in the mall, but the hallways seemed narrow, and by the mid 80's the mall always seemed to be congested with too many people, and the parking lot was full of Quebec plates and AFB stickers. Champlain Centres-North was constructed in 1987 or 1988 if I remember correctly. The larger mall was erected on a peice of property 5 tenths of a mile away, and the anchors were eager to move. A Hills department store (now ames), was the only new anchor to Plattsburgh. Leaving the vacancies in the old mall, JCPenney and Sears moved to the new mall too. The mall started to wilt, small stores went to the new mall, and when the Air Force Base closed in the mid 90's, the Champlan Centre now with the surname of "South", became a ghost town. People would walk into the mall just to go into the K-Mart or Red Lobster. Subsequently the mall was sealed off.

In 2000, half the mall was demolished, leaving the K-Mart and Red Lobster standing. You can still access the mall from the K-mart entrance, and look over the barrier into the remaining portion of the mall. You'll see what I mean about narrow hallways. I have fond memories of Sunday afternoons with my grandparents in this mall, and I'm saddend to see it's demise.

Bing Bird's Eye View:

Champlaine Centre South mall from a satellite in space.
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