After 21 years of doing business at Carousel Center the Pyramid companies know a lot about the shoppers who come through their doors. They monitor credit card information and parking lot license plates to see who makes up the retail base that delivers $400 million per year through the Carousel Center doors. That customer base is expected to grow significantly as soon as the new Destiny mall expansion opens to the public in the coming months.
The developers are confident they will stretch their trade area out to a two and a half hour drive reaching cities like Buffalo, Albany, Scranton and Ottawa. Destiny will also count on its core Central New York shoppers to welcome this retail and entertainment addition. "If it's possible for the community to embrace something harder," said Bruce Kenan comparing to the community appreciate for the existing mall."A big bear hug. I think that's what we're going to see here. They're going to love this place as we do."
A walk through the mall while it is mostly empty gives a sense of the great three floor expanse it occupies on what used to be a parking lot. Dry wall, paint and flooring are starting to outline actual store space underneath exposed beams. What once was expected to be a futuristic Disney like destination has toned down considerably, but still is delivering stores not seen in Central New York. Committed tenants include: Hugo Boss, Guess, Saks Off Fifth Avenue. There are luxury outlets combined with off price retail, entertainment destinations and restaurants like Toby Keith's I Love this Bar and Grill.
That blank big box look on the outside is also expected to be spruced up. "You'll see architectural elements that coincide with the stores that will occupy the space," said Destiny executive David Aitken. "We are going to light it up. Carousel is an icon in this town and you will see the same with the expansion."
The Destiny project has taken years and multiple designs to reach this point. The down economy slowed the project and more than a year was lost while a conflict with lender Citigroup was resolved allowing money to flow to pay back bills again.
Developer Bob Congel's long time development partner Bruce Kenan said he never questioned whether the project would be completed, "No. No. Actually not." When asked why he had faith he said, "It's either faith or ignoring what's going on around you. It could be anything except when you're committed to something you see it through til it's done. You know you can make it happen and you do make it happen."
Tune in to NBC 3 and CBS 5 tonight at 5:00 and 6:00 for Inside Destiny.