JEFFERSON VALLEY, N.Y. – After a wave of recent improvements, the Jefferson Valley Mall could see even more development if recently proposed plans come to fruition.
A Sears representative met with the town board last week and floated the idea of downsizing its Sears operations to just the top floor. The bottom floor would then be leased out and repurposed, with possible tenants including a 24-hour fitness center, with amenities such as a pool and basketball courts, and a new restaurant. The restaurant would take the place of the Sears Auto Center, which would be eliminated.
Town officials were receptive with some concerns.
Supervisor Michael Grace pointed out that Club Fit is across the street from the Jefferson Valley Mall. He referred to them as a valuable “corporate citizen” to the community. He stressed that the board “isn’t there to eliminate competition,” but that it also has a focus on ensuring that its businesses succeed, and wondered how each business would be affected by the close proximity of the other.
All plans and concerns are preliminary at this time, as no applications have been filed. Nadia Ostrovsky, an independent consultant representing Sears, said there are no firm commitments from prospective tenants, but that it is likely that once the largest tenant, the proposed fitness center signs on, others will follow suit.
“So far there’s a lot of interest,” she said. “Until we sign the first one it’s hard to find the next one.”
Sears Holdings is in the midst of a “restructuring program,” which includes the shuttering of hundreds of stores nationwide. Earlier this month, the company announced that it will close an additional 72 Sears stores, bringing its store count to about 1,200, down from 2,073 five years ago, according to Business Insider.
Sears owns its own store while the rest of the mall is owned by WP Glimcher. At the same June 13 work session, a representative of WP Glimcher also ran conceptual ideas past the town board, including a mall entrance and exit located on Route 6.
Real estate attorney Al Capellini, representing WP Glimcher, said that when the mall opened in 1983, the intention was to keep it hidden from the main road. Within the last decade, however, more has been done to increase the mall’s visibility such as the addition of storefronts to the side facing Route 6 and a slight reduction to the berm, he said.
“Now we’re going a step further,” he said. “We’re going to have an entrance way off of Route 6 so that the exposure would become more remarkable and hopefully we’ll uplift the mall to where it should be.”
Planning Director John Tegeder was concerned that further reductions to the berm would make the parking lot visible.
Last year, the mall opened Pink, Ulta Beauty and Dick’s Sporting Goods stores. The food court is currently being renovated and a new steakhouse is slated to open later this year.
Grace said an official application regarding the new ideas should be submitted in the upcoming weeks.