LATHAM, N.Y. - A groundbreaking ceremony for a project that some are hoping will provide an economic boost to a local community took place on Wednesday.
Crews were at the site of the former Latham Circle Mall for a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Shoppes at Latham Circle.
Many residents and local business owners have expressed their excitement for the demolition of the old mall, with the promise of rebuilding.
Elena Purritano's restaurant sits across the street from the Latham Circle Mall. But in the 18 years she's owned The Circle Diner, she says the mall has been little more than an empty space.
"The mall hasn’t really been in good shape for a long, long time, so it really only had a few stores in it,” she said.
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy says growing up in Albany, Latham Circle Mall was every adolescents dream.
“You'd come here to do your shopping, get your tux, it was a unique experience," said McCoy.
What started out as an outdoor mall in the 1950s, transitioned indoors in the 1970s right in the center of the Town of Colonie.
Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan says even the great location at the corner of Routes 9 and 2 couldn't save Latham Circle from the downturn of the economy.
"It was a very difficult site to attract developers to part of the main reason is the cost and the amount of work needed to be done,” said Mahan.
Work, Mahan says, was a result of years of empty stores and disrepair. Something the mall's owner, David Allen says made the decision to close and level the mall to start anew that much easier.
"It’s a wonderful location strategic corner to the retail market,” explained Allen.
Purritano says a positive direction for the mall will only mean good things for The Circle Diner.
"Hopefully it will increase traffic around Latham circle and bring more people to shop and eat,” she said.
Allen said that on Wednesday, rain during the groundbreaking ceremony of the new space only serves as a reminder of the economic growth to come from this relic.
The first phase of work begins in August with a new Wal-Mart Supercenter, set to be finished by spring 2015. The store manager said his store alone will expand by more than 150 employees for its new Walmart Superstore.
In addition to 200,000 square feet of additional retail space for new stores, Walmart says it will add another 188,000 towards its super center.
"Serves as recognition of a vision realized, were going to expand our vision to our customers. We'll have seafood well have fresh meat we'll have a full service super center something we haven't had in the 20 years we've been open," said Ed Daniels, Walmart store manager.
The owner of the property said the new outdoor shopping mall will benefit the economy, not just with money spent in shopping but in job growth as well.