Thursday, August 27, 2009

A mall in general exile

Today's Albany Times-Union reports that the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) will terminate bus service to Latham Circle Mall effective next month. It's bad enough that the mall, which first opened more than 40 years ago as Latham Corners Shopping Center, has fallen on very hard times over this decade, with most of its tenants having moved out or closed completely for various reasons, but CDTA's decision leaves a lot of commuters needing to car pool if they want to go to the movies or dine at the Old Country Buffet.

This isn't the first time CDTA has done this with one of the old school malls. A few years ago, it was decided that the buses wouldn't go into Northway Mall, either, but rather, a bus shelter was built in front. The message being sent then and now, simply, is that Northway & Latham Circle are no longer popular enough to warrant being a destination for commuters. Most folks would rather travel to the cavernous Crossgates Mall. Latham Circle is supposed to be in line for massive renovations that would allow it to be competitive to and/or compatible with Crossgates, but that hasn't happened. Sort of like the perennial plans to renovate Proctor's Theatre in Troy, but nothing ever gets done there, despite all the talk.

If anyone wants to go from Latham Farms to Latham Circle, just to go to the movies or Old Country, come the end of September, the best bet is to have a car handy. Trying to walk across the dangerous Route 7, even when it isn't rush hour, is hazardous to a commuter's health. The same goes for crossing Wolf Road to enter Colonie Center, another mall that CDTA stopped entering. The company doesn't realize the dangers that their consumers now must face, and don't seem to care, either. Crossing Central Avenue to get from Colonie Center to Northway, or vice versa, holds the same hazard.

I know the day will come within the next year or three that Latham Circle will close for good, but the blame for that will soon be shared between the mall's out-of-town owners and CDTA. One has driven away business by asking too much for rent, and the other by pinching pennies and putting consumers at greater risk.

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