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Struggling businesses get a break on rent at Guilderland's Stuyvesant Plaza

Struggling businesses get a break on rent at Guilderland's Stuyvesant Plaza

COVID-19 crisis hurting retailers and restaurants in Guilderland shopping center
Struggling businesses get a break on rent at Guilderland's Stuyvesant Plaza
Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland is nearly deserted Thursday.
Photographer: Peter Barber

GUILDERLAND — Restaurants and retailers at Stuyvesant Plaza struggling with the COVID-19 crisis got a glimmer of hope Thursday, as management said it would waive two weeks’ rent.

Ed Swyer, president of Stuyvesant Plaza Inc., said the company is in good enough financial standing that it can help its tenants during one of the most abrupt crises the large shopping plaza has experienced in its 60 years. 

“We had high inflation in the ’80s, Crossgates being built, and the financial crisis of 2008, but who would have predicted this?” said Swyer. “This is a bottomless pit. You don’t know how bad it’s going to get or how soon it’s going to be over.”

The waiver will help businesses like Jean Paul Spa, which recently decided to close until April 1.

“Hopefully the sooner things close, the sooner things can get back to normal,” said owner Amanda O’Hearn. “Instead of ignoring the problem that was in front of us, we thought it was important to maintain social distancing and not have large groups together.”

Many of their employees are paid on commission, reliant on clients pre-booking appointments after the spa reopens. 

“We’re trying to take care of our staff the best way we can by getting clients to pre-book so that we can help our staff through a couple of weeks of not being paid,” said O’Hearn. “They are all in good shape, and I think, very much looking forward for April 1 to come.”  

The restaurants and eateries in the plaza have moved to takeout to comply with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s requirements, and some have had to strip down to a minimal number of staff. 

Bellini’s Counter had a busy takeout counter before the state ordered restaurants to limit themselves to takeout or delivery. But general manager Marah Liden said the Italian eatery isn’t seeing the usual office workers from the nearby executive park come in for lunch. The ten-story office tower was down to only two floors in operation.

Another steady source of business, students at the nearby University at Albany, has disappeared.

“We’re just taking it one day at a time,” said Liden. “Every day’s been a little better than the one previous.”

Swyer said: “It’s beyond being altruistic. We depend on our tenants. We want them to come back and be a tenant for many years when this thing goes away.”

Swyer also said the plaza plans to invest more in security and sanitation, redirecting labor like landscaping into getting the facilities clean enough to meet CDC guidelines. 

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