How do you repurpose more than 700,000 square feet of suburban retail space and save a major asset and taxpayer?
The Town of Hamburg has a suggestion for McKinley Mall, which is in risk of "imminent monetary default" on its mortgage: Think sportsplex.
Should the 32-year-old mall fall into even harder times, and there is a lot of space to fill, the town's quest for a multisport complex could help the owner reinvigorate the property, town Supervisor James M. Shaw said.
"That could be the new focus upon which existing stores and existing restaurants could be sustained," Shaw said.
He said he contacted mall management in February, and has spoken twice to officials at Stoltz Management of Delaware, the owner of the mall.
It would be the fourth idea for a sports facility in nine years, but the opportunity to shore up McKinley Mall is a major driver for the supervisor.
"We can't lose the McKinley Mall. It would be a significant blow to the morale of this community. It would have a tremendous impact upon our tax revenue," Shaw said.
He said he hopes to set up a meeting with the owners of the mall to determine the viability of a sports project. Shaw said no mall built in 1980s, in era when big box stores proliferated, can exist today unless it is refitted for another purpose.
Hamburg has tried for years to attract a complex with twin ice rinks and turf field to the town to replace the aging town rink at the Lakeview Recreation area. Residents in 2009 turned down a proposal to privatize and enlarge the town rink, a deal with a Toronto developer fell through last year, and the town is still waiting to hear more details from the Kaleta Group, which also has proposed a multirink facility in Hamburg.