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Mall aims to better integrate with community

Mall aims to better integrate with community

The Rotterdam Square mall’s new California owner is making changes at the mall in an effort to becom
Mall aims to better integrate with community
Justina Rose of Schenectady shares lunch and conversation with friend Jasmine Wilkins (not pictured) at the Rotterdam Square Food Court on Tuesday.
Photographer: Ana Zangroniz

The Rotterdam Square mall’s new California owner is making changes at the mall in an effort to become “a community partner.”

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based Macerich Co.’s latest change at the mall, which opened two decades ago, comes in the form of a new lounge at the food court. The 675-square-foot carpeted lounge features free Wi-Fi access plus soft seating and couches.

To create that public space, Macerich had to transform a 1,930-square-foot island housing four retail stores. The retailers relocated to storefront or kiosk locations.

The island’s demolition also opened 1,260 square feet of space, which will primarily be used by kiosks during the holiday season.

The lounge project follows the redevelopment of Rotterdam Square’s bathrooms last year. More shopper amenity upgrades are planned.

“We are a dedicated community center, and we want to strengthen our place in the community,” said Tonya Harman, Rotterdam Square’s senior manager of property management.

A grand opening for the lounge is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday.

Macerich acquired Rotterdam Square and Wilton Mall in 2005 from Wilmorite Properties in Rochester.

Over the next two years, Macerich plans to develop at the Rotterdam mall an approximately 3,000-square-foot community center that businesses and community groups could use. Also in the pipeline are family bathrooms and a children’s soft play area similar to the one Macerich built last year at Wilton Mall, Harman said.

The play area likely will be built where the mall’s carousel stood before Macerich sold it last year.

So far, Macerich’s endeavors to establish stronger bonds appear to be paying off. In April, the Chamber of Schenectady County co-sponsored a county job fair at the mall. The mall earlier this month also sent volunteers to help the chamber with its annual golf classic at the Stadium Golf Club.

“Since Macerich purchased Rotterdam Square, I’ve noticed a very increased focus on community partnerships,” said Leesa Pagan, chamber director of work force development and public affairs.

The renovations at the 583,000-square-foot Rotterdam Square mall are smaller in scale compared to those at the 745,000-square-foot Wilton Mall. The Wilton shopping center saw its J.C. Penney store relocate within the mall in August to a location 65 percent larger than its previous space.

Harman said such a large expansion is not planned for Rotterdam Square because it does not have the available space Wilton Mall had. By the end of 2007, Rotterdam Square was 90 percent occupied.

“We are striving to make these changes not so we can become a retail destination but also a community partner,” said Becky Valenti, the marketing manager of Rotterdam Square and Wilton Mall.

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