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Adam Meldrum & Anderson Co. today announced that it will become an anchor tenant in the Walden Galleria mall in Cheektowaga this summer, taking over the vacant store space originally reserved for B. Altman.

The Buffalo-based department store chain will close its nearby Thruway Mall store in July and make the move to the Galleria in early August.

"We need to be in the finest new shopping center in the area," Keith Alford, president of AM&A's, said at a morning press conference at the Galleria.

He noted that sales at AM&A's Thruway Mall location have done "fairly well" but added, "Over the long term, we don't see the increases coming there as we see them coming here."

The new location will employ about 250 people, about 75 more than are employed at Thruway Mall. The Thruway Mall store's employees will be offered jobs at the Galleria location, he said.

The 150,000-square-foot store that AM&A's will occupy originally was designed for B. Altman by Pyramid Corp., owner and manager of the Galleria.

AM&A's will make minor modifications to the store, which will be the largest of its suburban outlets.

The new store will be about 50 percent larger than the Thruway Mall store and slightly larger than the chain's Eastern Hills location.

The announcement ends months of uncertainty about the mall's fifth anchor. B. Altman had been planning since late 1988 to open what would have been the Galleria's second-largest store, but those intentions were thwarted by the financial problems of the chain's owner, L.J. Hooker Co.

As a result, B. Altman scrapped its plans to open a store in the Galleria late last summer, leaving the mall with a store that basically was finished and ready to open but lacked any merchandise or a company to operate it.

Hooker then filed for bankruptcy protection in August due to severe problems in its retailing operations.

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