New York state and local officials gathered in Albany County today, asking for Governor Andrew Cuomo to include shopping malls in Phase Three of reopening from the pandemic.
Democratic Assemblymember Pat Fahy stood at the podium in the almost empty parking lots outside Crossgates Mall in Guilderland.
The Albany Democrat asks: if big box stores were allowed to remain open throughout the pandemic shutdown, and most retail opened in Phase Two, why not shopping malls?
“I had co-signed a letter just two weeks ago with myself and my colleague John McDonald, with a number of upstate members, urging the governor to include malls in Phase Two, along with other retail businesses. We are awaiting word on that letter, but in the meantime, now we’re ready for Phase Three and we think we’re ready,” said Fahy.
Phase Three begins Friday for five regions across New York, with the Capital Region expected to follow next week. Phase Three includes restaurants and food service for indoor and outdoor dining, as well as personal care services like nail salons and massage studios.
Crossgates Mall employs between 2,500 and 3,000 people and is home to 225 stores, something pointed out by the officials who touted its economic benefit to the area.
It’s not just retail, but restaurants too.
Brandi Cockfield, who is bar manager at The Standard, said outdoor dining is open but is not sustainable.
“We have such a large restaurant and not having the foot traffic and not being able to open up the mall and let everybody come in from the inside is not going to work,” said Cockfield.
Phillip Pevzner, along with his brother Andrew, co-founded LacedUp, a shoe and clothing store inside Crossgates Mall, along with three New York City-area stores. Pevzner says he wants to reopen for the sake of his staff.
“Our main job in the recent couple months has just been to calm ‘em down and be like, ‘Hey, guys, we’re going to do everything we can to stay alive and stay through this and we’re hoping that we can do that. But that’s certainly less clear if there’s no plan to reopen so we’re just hoping we’re given some guidance and we’re really hoping that we open soon,” said Pevzner.
If you drive up to the mall today, although it isn’t open, there are signs on the doors as part of a number of new safety protocols Crossgates, and its parent company Pyramid, have instituted.
Michael Gately is general manager at Crossgates.
“We’re asking everyone who walks through the door to be wearing a mask. And, on top of that, anyone who is here and at the shopping center…if you’re sick, please don’t enter,” said Gately.
Gately said the safety protocols are being implemented at Pyramid’s 15 shopping centers in the Northeast.
“It’s going to be all of our properties in New York State and Massachusetts. We’ve worked together on a cohesive plan. And some of them meet or exceed CDC, state, and national guidelines in terms of what we’re doing,” said Gately.