LATHAM CORNERS CENTER
Loudon Road / US 9 and Troy-Schenectady Road
Albany County (Town of Colonie), New York

One of the earliest regional shopping centers in New York's Capital Region was constructed on 46.2 acres, located 6.5 miles north of the Empire State Capitol. The site was in Albany County's Town of Colonie / Latham hamlet. Originally known as LATHAM CORNERS CENTER, it was so named due to its proximity to the Latham Traffic Circle, where Loudon and Troy-Schenectady Roads intersect.

The 10 million dollar strip complex was developed by Montreal's Maxwell, Cummings & Sons, under the auspices of Latham Enterprises. It was designed by the W.O. Biernack and Poray & Associates firms, encompassed 325,000 leasable square feet and consisted of a main retail level and upper floor of office suites.

Anchoring the complex was a 2-level (81,000 square foot) Boston Store, an operative of New York City-based Interstate Stores. As one may -or may not- be aware, there were at least six separately-owned and operated "Boston Store" chains in the United States at this time.

There was the aforementioned Interstate Stores division, as well as a subsidiary of Federated Stores (today a segment of York, Pennsylvania-based Bon Ton Stores), a Columbus, Ohio chain (a division of Dearborn, Michigan's Federal's), a division of Associated Dry Goods (operating out of Erie, Pennsylvania), a chain of two stores in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and Binghamton, New York AND another chain operating out of Phoenix, Arizona.

The Boston Store at LATHAM CORNERS CENTER opened for business on October 24, 1957. Its dedication was accompanied by openings of thirty-five inline stores. These included J.C. Penney, W.T. Grant, Dan A. Donahue Men's & Boy's, Latham Music Bar, Western Auto, a (40,000 square foot) F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 and (32,200 square foot) Grand Union supermarket.

Regional-class rivals were eventually built. First was COLONIE CENTER (1966) {3.4 miles southwest, in Albany County}, followed by MOHAWK MALL (1970) {6.6 miles northwest, in Schenectady County} and CLIFTON COUNTRY MALL (1976) {7.4 miles north, in Saratoga County}.

As a keeping up with the malls measure, the LATHAM CORNERS proprietor, Mr. Eugene Weiss, announced a renovation project in July 1977. An L-shaped mallway was built along the north and northeast storefronts, adding thirty-five tenant spaces. These were leased by businesses such as Pyramid Jewelry, Sterling Optical, Fanny Farmer Candies, Pioneer Savings Bank, J.P.'s Porterhouse Too Steakhouse, Hickory Farms of Ohio and Athletic Attic.

Reconstruction was complete by mid-1978, with the newly-enclosed complex known, henceforth, as LATHAM CIRCLE MALL. The addition had increased the GLA of the structure to approximately 450,000 square feet.

The completion of CROSSGATES MALL (1981) {5.3 miles southwest, in Guilderland} probably prompted two expansions of LATHAM CIRCLE MALL during the 1980s. The first, completed in 1982, consisted of the relocation of Grand Union, into a freestanding building at the south end of the mall site.

Grand Union's original location was demolished. A 1-level (86,000 square foot) Norwalk, Connecticut-based Caldor discount mart was built, which anchored a new South Wing. Caldor, the 81st store in the chain, held its grand opening March 24, 1983.

A plan for a second expansion, which would cost 20 million dollars, was approved by the local government in November 1987. A 1-level (60,000 square foot) J.C. Penney was built at the north end of the mall. The relocated store's dedication took place November 2, 1988.

The circa-1957 Penney's was refitted with new inline stores. A 2-level parking garage and Hoyts Latham Circle Cinema 9 were built; the theater being part of a new Upper Level. The motion picture venue showed its first features December 22, 1989. It would eventually be rebannered as the Regal Latham Circle Mall 10.

The interior of the mall was also updated. A Food Court was created in a former Denby's store, which had set up shop in a vacant W.T. Grant in the mid-1970s. New tenants were also signed, such as Limited Express, Foot Locker and County Seat. By the time the makeover was completed in early 1990, LATHAM CIRCLE MALL encompassed approximately 725,000 leasable square feet.

A shipping and receiving area in The Boston Store caught fire in October 1989. This same section had burned in April 1978. The sales floors were not effected by the blaze, but experienced water and smoke damage. The store closed and re-opened briefly, before being shuttered in February 1991. Its space was taken by a Burlington Coat Factory, which was dedicated March 24, 1993.

Woolworth became the next charter tenant to shut down, in January 1994. Half of its space re-opened, as a Klein's All Sports, in September of the same year. This store relocated within the mall 4 years later. The entire Woolworth space was -then- reconfigured, as a Jacksonville, Florida-based Stein Mart. A store dedication was held on October 15, 1998.

Caldor was shuttered in early 1999. Its space was never retenanted. Soon, LATHAM CIRCLE MALL was in a downward spiral. Tenants pulled out, leaving empty store spaces that were never filled. Stein Mart closed March 27, 2001, followed by Klein's All Sports (2004), CVS Drug (2004) and Gold's Gym (2005).

In the midst of all the tenant defections, the Caldor on the south end of the complex was demolished. It was replaced by a 1-level (143,000 square foot) Lowe's, which did not connect with the interior mallway. Its grand opening was held in April 2004.

A 12 million dollar mall brenovation, announced in June 2006, never panned out. The facility, operating in the red for some time, was foreclosed on in January 2009, with its new owner being Wellesley, Massachusetts-based Realty Financial Partners.

The beleaguered shopping hub was dealt another blow in May 2012, when Burlington Coat Factory closed. The bitter end came with the shuttering of the Regal multiplex, in February 2013.

Alternate plans for a LATHAM CIRCLE renovation had been announced in August 2012. This project, a joint venture of Realty Financial Partners and the Boston-based Grossman Development Group, had an estimated price tag of 40 to 60 million dollars.

Approval for the project was granted in October 2012, with demolition commencing March 12, 2013. The middle mall section was knocked down, leaving J.C. Penney, a part of the North Wing and Lowe's standing.

A new power center, known as SHOPPES AT LATHAM CIRCLE, would encompass 567,200 leasable square feet and house approximately ten stores and services. Unfortunately, J.C. Penney would not be among these. The LATHAM location was shuttered in January 2014.

An official groundbreaking was held June 11, 2014, with the first new store, a l-level (188,000 square foot) WalMart, opening its doors July 15, 2015. The original power center plan would have retained a portion of the aforementioned North Wing, which would have been renovated. With the shuttering of J.C. Penney, this plan was scrapped. Penney's, and the remaining mall section, were demolished in March 2015.

178,000 square feet of new store space would be completed in stages. Burlington (Coat Factory), who backed out of the dying LATHAM CIRCLE MALL in 2012, opened a (55,000 square foot) store in the new power center on April 15, 2016. This was followed by the dedication of a 1-level (35,000 square foot) Bob's Discount Furniture, which transpired on May 26 of the same year.

Sources:

www.labelscar.com
"Latham Circle Mall" article on Wikipedia
The Schenectady Gazette
Comment post by Michael
www.nuizer.com
www.cinematreasures.org
www.grossmanre.com (Grossman Development Group)


FAIR USE OF LATHAM CORNERS CENTER IMAGES:

The graphics and renderings from The Schenectady Gazette illustrate a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. The images are of lower resolution than the originals (copies made would be of inferior quality). The images are not replaceable with free-use or public-domain images. The use of the images does not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute the images in any way. The images are being used for non-profit, informational purposes only and their use is not believed to detract from the original images in any way.