News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.
This Thursday, the White Plains Galleria is closing for good after 43 years. When it opened in 1980, the once-popular mall at 100 Main St. was the largest in the region and most profitable in the country.
But a difficult economy and the pandemic were two of the key reasons for its death knell and the looming closure of the mega retail operation.
Open for its final days last week, the mall was nearly deserted with the exception of a few stores that remained open. Shops that were closed had darkened interiors covered by steel gray security gates. Eerily, all mall escalators were running, echoing throughout the expansive, empty corridors.
Floors that for years were abuzz with shoppers were now silent.
Still open was Westchester Trains & Hobbies, its merchandise spilling out onto the floor near the Main St. entrance, the only remaining access point for the mall. Long popular with hobbyists, the store moved to the Galleria in 2020.
John, the Westchester Trains & Hobbies manager who was reluctant to give his full name, said the store was looking for a new lease at another location.
“I’ve been working (with the business) for four years and there’s been only a few sales recently,” he said.
Another one of the few stores still open were Belleza Salon, and one dress shop on the food court level with a a small rack of clothes on clearance out front. Gone were all tables in the food court and a few chairs were scattered randomly while others were stacked in remote corners. Store directories were still displayed prominently.
Security guards were overtly present, chasing down anyone on the premises that didn’t have an appointment in the dwindling number of remaining businesses –Galleria Dental Center, Lenscrafters and Nails and More. A security guard intervened to prevent The Examiner from interviewing a specialist at Lenscrafters. The Examiner reporter was advised to stop taking notes and photos by security after a request to speak to mall management was denied.
The guard also questioned a couple with a child attempting to access the public garage from within the mall.
In one of the few exterior windows on Main St. that wasn’t papered over was a sign from mall owner Pacific Retail Capital Partners (PRCP), thanking the community for its loyalty and “memories we have shared and the relationships we have formed with our customers and neighbors.”
The mall takes up about 10 acres, has 865,000 leasable square feet in its four levels, 2,840 available parking spaces, 50 small retail shop spaces and 22 restaurants. It also had two movie theaters. PRCP purchased the mall in 2016 from Simon Property Group for about $120 million.
But by 2021, the Galleria lost its premier anchor stores, Macy’s and Sears. Macy’s had been in the Galleria since 2001 and Sears since 2003.
In November, it was reported that PRCP was teaming up with Aareal Bank, the Cappelli Organization and SL Green Realty Corp. in a joint venture to develop a mixed-use project of residential development and amenity-based retail on the site.
Because the location is in the heart of downtown White Plains near the city’s Metro-North station, a major mass transit hub, it is considered a Qualified Opportunity Zone, one in which has seen large-scale revitalization.
The Qualified Opportunity Zone also includes the two 43-story towers of The Ritz-Carlton across the street from the Galleria that includes 374 condominiums, a hotel, 70,000 square feet of offices and a 900-car underground garage.
Abby is a local journalist who has reported on breaking news for more than 20 years. She currently covers community issues in The Examiner as a full-time reporter and has written for the paper since its inception in 2007. Read more from Abby’s editor-author bio here. Read Abbys’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/ab-lub2019/