Plattsburgh mall tenants frustrated by exclusion from phase 2 reopening

Published: Jun. 11, 2020 at 3:30 PM EDT
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As New York works to reopen region by region, a shopping Mall in Plattsburgh is still looking for answers. The Champlain Centre says it's ready to reopen, the only problem is its retailers have no idea when the greenlight is coming from the governor.

Greg Nephew runs Lake City Hobbies, a shop dedicated to radio-control racing and other hobbies.

"The industry as a whole for the last couple of months has experienced a boom like they've never seen," Nephew said.

He's hoping to cater to people cooped up by the pandemic and says he's ready to get back to business. Nephew, like many other retailers in the mall, fully expected to open under the state's phase 2 startup plans, but a last minute change from the governor removed shopping malls from Phase 2, offering them only curbside pickup. The governor has said malls will stay closed because of their shared common space and only stores with external doors could open.

"Not only frustrating, but it's also financially devastating as well," Nephew said. "All the other industries have an idea of when they can reopen. we thought we were going to be reopening on May 29th."

"This has been the worst involuntary vacation that I have ever been on," said Teddy Chan, the owner of the mall's China Cafe. "You tell me, am I doing it the right way or the wrong way guys?"

Chan said he was also led to believe his family's Chinese restaurant would be allowed to open in phase 2 and stocked up on food needed to do so and that's now sitting going to waste

"If you are going to give us a date, please just stick to it. I've invested a lot already into reopening, and once again Governor, are you paying me for that?" Chan said.

The shop owners say not knowing a timeline of when they can open back up is only adding to the stress of being closed. "We need our weekly sales to pay our bills, and that's how most small businesses operate, and right now were not being able to do that. It's a tough situation," Nephew said.

The mall and its tenants, along with the North Country Chamber of Commerce, have all issued statements of support for reopening and sent them to the governor.

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