Downstreet Marketplace is once again looking up.
Two years after the owners envisioned tearing down the 22,000-square-foot building to construct a new, modern building in its place, they now have scrapped those plans and aim to renovate the space with minimal disturbance to neighbors and tenants.
Some tenants moved out of the building at 454 Broadway when the owners thought about replacing the whole thing with a three-story structure. Two of those stores are still empty.
Co-owner Mark Straus, who owns several other buildings on Broadway, said he originally considered connecting the marketplace to the Silverado and Wheatfields building and running a hallway through to Caroline Street.
“It was a very cool idea,” he said.
But he and business partner Tom Gardner decided against it because the two-year disturbance during construction would be bad for everyone’s business.
“I think the main reason was, over the last two years there have been a number of businesses that have invested heavily in their spaces,” Straus said.
He still has big dreams for the mall-like building, which has two floors of stores and entrances on Broadway and Maple Avenue.
He would like to see direct entrances for the two stores that front on Broadway, currently Aggie’s and Saratoga Turkish Bazaar. A new, larger entrance is needed to welcome people inside, and he’d like to update the facade.
“The facade is really quite nondescript,” Straus said. “Most people walk by the building and don’t really realize that there’s a number of businesses inside.”
He’d love to attract an ethnic street food restaurant for the Maple Avenue side of the mall, such as a sushi restaurant or a noodle shop.
The building’s favorable acoustics would be ideal for musical performances in the hallway or mezzanine between the 11 suites, Straus noted.
“We’re really trying to make this a place that people want to come to.”
Updates to the flooring, walls and windows also may be in the works to make the space more welcoming than its 1970s renovation is now, Straus said.
His thoughts haven’t yet been priced or planned, Straus stressed — he’s still meeting with architects. No plans have been filed with the city.
While he’s planning changes, several new stores have opened in the building — Lucia, owned by Straus’ daughter, Lucy Straus; Lula, owned by Lucy Straus’ friend Carey McAndrew; Kusikay, a Peruvian arts and crafts store that opened within the last month; and the Turkish bazaar that opened in July.
Lucy Straus and McAndrew are both young women who studied art and who dreamed of opening their own stores.
Straus opened Lucia a year and a half ago in a small space in the marketplace.
“My parents owned Mabou, so it’s kind of always been in my system,” Straus, 23, said of owning a business.
She sells women’s clothing and jewelry, including some items made in the U.S., and she steers toward eco-friendly fabrics.
Straus plans to open an online store in about a month at www.luciaboutique.com.
McAndrew opened Lula over the summer.
She carries housewares and textiles from India in the store and sells furniture owned by Mark and Betty Straus from the same lines they sold in Mabou, the furniture and interiors store from which they retired two years ago.
McAndrew, 26, a 1999 Saratoga Springs High School graduate, studied art history and fine arts at the University at Albany.
The Turkish goods store opened almost by chance.
Two of the three partners traveled from Turkey about seven months ago to visit their friend, who owns Hamada’s Egyptian Bazaar in the back of the Downstreet Marketplace.
Bulent Derdiyok and Sarper Ozcan saw the front store space was open and decided to open a temporary exhibition space for the summer to sell their Turkish wares.
They opened in July, and have decided to stay.
The Turkish men now plan to travel back and forth between the two countries so they can keep an eye on their three stores in Istanbul, Turkey.
While they’re overseas, Mohammed Amin, the third partner who also owns the Egyptian store, will fill in.
The bazaar is their first store in the U.S. “We decided to start from Saratoga to grow in the States,” Derdiyok said.
They sell Turkish rugs, handmade lanterns and ceramics painted with authentic Ottoman patterns.
“All of this merchandise that you see here, they have history,” Ozcan said.
The new owners are examples of the type of merchants Mark Straus wants to attract — people who work at their shops, think globally and sell environmentally friendly wares that aren’t overly expensive.
“We’ve basically turned down a number of national stores that have wanted to be on this block,” he said.
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