PALISADES CENTER
Routes 59 and 303
Rockland County (Town of Clarkstown), New York

Plans for a lower Hudson Valley shopping mall were first envisaged in 1982. In 1985, Syracuse's Pyramid Companies made public their plan for an upscale shopping center of 875,000 leasable square feet. 


This was to occupy a 130 acre plot, situated 23 miles north of New York City's Times Square. The prospective mall site, a swampy area with a printing plant, bowling alley, diner, car dealerships and two landfills, was located in West Nyack, an unincorporated hamlet within the Town of Clarkstown, a political division of Rockland County.

Getting approval to build the PALISADES CENTER complex was a difficult and time consuming process. An initial plan, sanctioned by the local government in 1990, was met with community opposition and lawsuits. Several years of court battles followed.

All legal challenges had been overcome by 1995. By this time, the size of the prospective shopping center had grown to 1.9 million leasable square feet. In April 1996, plans for the construction of an even larger mall were approved by the local governing body.

Over the years, the original plan for an upscale retail venue had evolved into one for a more middle-market "power mall". This would house traditional department stores and several big box-type tenants. It would be an East Coast version of Minnesota's MALL OF AMERICA and feature an indoor roller coaster...ala Canada's WEST EDMONTON MALL.

Construction was soon underway on the PALISADES CENTER project. Designed by Saint Louis-based HOK (Hellmuth, Obata, Kassabaum), the center would encompass 5 levels, with the first being a subterranean parking deck.

Anchoring the mammoth mall would be a 3-level (204,000 square foot) Boston-based Filene's, 3-level (156,000 square foot) J.C. Penney and 2-level (120,000 square foot) Lord & Taylor.

A vertically-stacked anchor box structure on the west end of the complex would house three big box stores. On Level 1 would be a 1-level (140,000 square foot), Natick, Massachusetts-based B.J.'s Wholesale Club. Levels 2 and 3 would consist of a 1 level (135,000 square foot) Home Depot. On Level 4 would be a 1-level (134,000 square foot) Target. It would be the only store of the three with an interior mallway connection.

Junior anchor spaces on various floors of the complex would accommodate Best Buy, Burlington Coat Factory, Bed Bath & Beyond, Sports Authority, Nobody Beats The Wiz, Barnes & Noble and Krazy City. Level 3 would have a 13-bay Food Court, one of the largest in the nation. It would feature a ferris wheel and 1907-vintage carousel.

On Level 4 would be the Loews Palisades Center 21 megaplex, IMAX Theatre Palisades Center, The Rink At Palisades Center (an indoor ice skating venue) and Lucky Strike Lanes bowling alley.

Moreover, there was TheEATery, which adjoined the two cinematic venues and featured thirteen sit-down restaurants. These included Bravo! Cucina Italiana, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Outback Steakhouse, Chili's Grill & Bar, Dave & Buster's Restaurant Bar & Arcade, T.G.I. Friday and Chevy's Fresh Mex.

Target became one of the first operational stores at PALISADES CENTER in February 1998. A mall-wide preview opening took place March 4, 1998 with the official grand opening being held April 15 of the same year.

Charter tenants included The Great Train Store, Rainforest Cafe, Catskill Corners Store, Laura's Hallmark, Ann Taylor, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, 9 West, J. Crew, Disney Store and Restoration Hardware. The original plan for an inside roller coaster had been cancelled.

PALISADES CENTER had but one retail rival in its immediate vicinity...NANUET MALL (1969) {2.7 miles southwest, in Rockland County}. This center was reduced to dead mall status soon after the "PALISADES MALL" grand opening.

Other major malls within a short distance were CROSS COUNTY CENTER (1954) {12.7 miles southeast, in Yonkers}, PARAMUS PARK MALL (1974) {11.2 miles southwest, in Paramus, New Jersey}, WESTFIELD GARDEN STATE PLAZA (1957) {13.6 miles southwest, also in Paramus, New Jersey} and BERGEN MALL (1957) {13.5 miles southwest, in Paramus and Maywood, New Jersey}.

Although PALISADES CENTER comprised nearly as much physical space as Minnesota's MALL OF AMERICA, the area that it was permitted to lease was restricted by local statute. This required the passage of a voter referendum before any of the remaining vacant area in the mall could be utilized in a retail capacity. The most recent referendum, held in 2002, failed to pass.

Hence, the GLA of PALISADES CENTER is held down to its present-day size of 2,217,300 square feet, with a retail roster of two hundred and fifty-five stores and services.

Two major nameplate conversions have taken place since the mall's 1998 dedication. Filene's was rebranded as a Macy's on September 9, 2006. The Loews Palisades Center 21 became the AMC-Loews Palisades Center 21 in January 2006. In 2015, the main (21-screen) cinema complex was renovated. A separate IMAX auditorium relocated into the 21-plex, with the combined venue being renamed the AMC Palisades 21 & IMAX.

In the meantime, PALISADES CENTER was given an interior facelift during 2013. Surfaces were painted, with new ceiling treatments and carpeted, soft seating areas installed. ThEATery was equipped with new tile flooring and lighting fixtures.


Sources:

"Palisades Center" article on Wikipedia
The New York Times

Comment post by "Anonymous"
http://www.malletin.com
http://www.movietheatre.org
http://www.worldlingo.com
http://www.palisadescenter.com
http://www.pyramidmg.com (Pyramid Companies)

7 comments:

  1. Having been the VP of the Nanuet Chamber of Commerce during the time Tom Valenti was going around trying to convince the community that this was a good thing, I can tell you that this community was sold out by Pyramid. Tom Valenti brought beautiful renderings of what this mall would be, waterfalls, plants and flowers, atriums, upscale stories and eateries, etc. He made it sound like we would be fools to turn it down. We argued that while it sounded wonderful, we already had a mall and local shops and didn't need this mega mall to move in a bankrupt everyone else. He vehemently disagreed saying that it would be beautiful and be good for everyone and not affect the Nanuet mall. The first day I walked into the Palisades to see the open design with air conditioning ducts showing, the bare concrete floor and not a waterfall or plant to be found, I knew we had been sold a bill of goods and Tom Valenti was off counting his money somewhere. We all knew it would go through regardless of what any of us thought or said because someone would be paid off to make it happen (as the rumors have suggested). Looking at the Nanuet Mall now and the various struggling shops in and around, it's easy to see that so many were right. There have been some efforts made to add carpeting and give it a more upscale feel in areas of the mall. But the bottom line was that we were sold a bill of goods by a company that was going to put a mall in no matter what the people in the area thought or wanted.

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  2. Anon,

    Thanks so much for posting and relating the VERY PERTINENT details concerning Rockland's megamall.

    Obviously, this project was VERY controversial and was fought bitterly by those in the county who wanted to keep it more pastoral, wooded and less developed.

    Of course, there was a lot of dollars and power behind this project...making it difficult, if not impossible, to effectively fight.

    People did defeat some other Pyramid projects in Vermont and other places...but in other places...these challenges were defeated.

    It's a lot like Wal-Mart. In MANY places, their plans for stores have been bitterly contested. In most cases, they win out in the end.

    I did read a bit about the 1980s version of what became PALISADES MALL. It was -as you mention- quite a bit different that what was eventually built. I don't know what caused the shift from upscale to middle-market. I would have thought that a chic shopping center could have made it in such an affluent area....

    Maybe the upper crust anchors originally sought would not commit...I really don't know.

    I hope that this site does not come off as TEE-TOTALLY "pro-mall"...no matter what. I really don't feel this way. I am just trying to document what I see as the most important malls in the nation -and world- for better or worse.

    Cheers and thanks again for posting,

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  3. The Home Depot must have been two levels high because of the high roofline. Maybe.

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  4. I dunno. Never having been to this mall.....

    I thought Home Depots were usually 1 level...albeit a VERY TALL level.

    Cheers

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  5. Home Depot is only a single level at Palisades Center.

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  6. Yes...it is a single level store, as the copy here indicates. However, a traditional Home Depot structure is VERY tall inside...making said store at PALISADES CENTER actually occupy 2 levels in the mall.

    Thanks for posting/

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  7. Nice article. I remember when they built and opened this mall. I was student at nearby Nyack College. Before the mall was built it was dismal land, a couple of old car dealerships and Burger King...I seem to remember hearing stories of a cemetery as well. Anyway, when they opened the mall, many were dissapointed with the industrial appearance which took away from the shopping experience; moreover, many people still drive down to Paramus to get the tax savings and cheap gas. The mall is successful, but its success is definitely attributable to the big box warehouse stores, movie theaters and restaurants versus the retail offerings.

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