QUEENSBURY — Aviation Mall officials are “very close” to announcing two or three new businesses to replace Bon-Ton, General Manager James Griffith said.
“We’re in the final negotiations with tenants,” he said.
The Bon-Ton space will be split into several parts.
About 20,000 square feet will be used by an entertainment company, Griffith said.
The remaining space, about 60,000 square feet, will be used by retailers.
Griffith is particularly enthusiastic about the new entertainment business.
“More entertainment is what’s needed in our center,” he said, adding that the location is perfect because it’s near Regal Cinemas and Tru-Escape.
“It will really create an entertainment space,” he said.
He noted on Thanksgiving weekend that many people came to the mall to watch movies, eat at the Ninety Nine restaurant or play in the Tru-Escape mystery room.
“It wasn’t just people going shopping,” he said. “I saw a lot of traffic in the mystery room.”
It’s not yet clear what new retailers will come to the space, but Griffith said he negotiated with large retailers who have space at other malls owned by Pyramid.
“Now they understand what their ideal size would be,” he said. “A lot of big boxes are getting away from such large spaces. Kohl’s is doing 45,000 where before they used to be 80,000 to 85,000 (square feet).”
He’s also beginning to talk with interested businesses for the Sears space, after Sears closed last weekend. The company renewed its lease just more than a year ago, to Griffith’s dismay.
Griffith became mall manager shortly afterward, and he said that Sears was not drawing in enough customers at that location. Without foot traffic, the food court on that side of the mall withered away, and he said he could have recruited a business that would do better than Sears.
Now that the company has closed that store, he said he still feels the mall will benefit by replacing Sears.
“Absolutely. Without question,” he said. “It’s disappointing to lose a relationship we’ve had for 40 years. But it’s a great opportunity for us to bring in something that’s more dynamic.”
The closing of Sears and Toys R Us — which was not in the mall but rocked the entire toy industry — has also changed what products are offered at other mall stores.
J.C. Penney, one of the mall’s anchor stores, has expanded into washers, dryers and refrigerators.
“Because of Sears closing, they added large appliances,” Griffith said. “They were already selling small appliances.”
Dick’s Sporting Goods, another anchor store, added table games, such as Ping-Pong and foosball. Target in the mall expanded its toy section.
“Toys R Us closing allowed it to add more toys — Power Wheels, more Little Tykes, some higher-priced toys that they didn’t have before,” Griffith said.