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Letter to the Editor

Wednesday, June 05, 2013 - Updated: 4:08 AM

City needs an outlet village

To the editor:

With the recent news around what to do with the downtown hotel, and the annual clogging of Market Street all the way across the bridge with campers and boats, I feel compelled to once again plead for our city leaders to bring an outlet village to Amsterdam. This is a repeat of the letter I submitted on the subject two years ago:

This is an open letter to our city, state and congressional leaders and Mr. John Tesiero. Everyone knows our once-great downtown is in desperate need of revitalization. Let's be honest, in today's modern era it is simply dreaming to expect that any major manufacturing is going to locate inside the city limits. The types of products and new methods of manufacturing and distribution will always be better suited for any of the various industrial parks located in the surrounding towns. Like it or not, it's reality we need to face.

What Amsterdam does possess, however, is a jewel that no one else can claim, it's gateway to the Adirondacks, via the Route 30 corridor. I am calling on our leaders and Mr. Tesiero to consider the following proposal: Let's make Amsterdam a home to a high-end outlet village, and let's locate it downtown.

Imagine this scene: As you are driving on the Thruway you see the signs for "Outlet Village -- Next Exit." As you exit the Thruway, you immediately see the sign atop the former Key Bank building, lit up and rotating with "Dutch Valley Outlets" or something catchy. Similar signs are on the old mall. As you cross the bridge you see that each floor of the former bank is now the home of the anchor stores: Hugo Boss, top floor; Banana Republic, fifth floor; Ann Taylor, third floor; you get the idea. Each store has their logo on the outside of the building.

Next, you notice the new exit off the bridge: "Outlet Village parking keep right." At the base of the bridge you now have a new choice: turning right into the center of the old mall, which has become Main Street again, one way, with an open-air atrium roof over it, so cars can drop off passengers, and drive past the new outlet stores which now line both sides of the street. (The state took Main Street away; let's take it back.) And for the doubters, take a drive down the new State Street in Schenectady and try to find a parking space or an empty storefront.

Left side of the mall is the revitalized block of Main Street, full of outlet stores, restaurants, bars, coffee houses, just like Broadway in Saratoga, with the jewel being the old bank, full of high-end stores, complete with an elevator operator to give shoppers that old-time feeling that will bring them coming back again and again. Apartments fill the upper floors.

We have the demographics to make this a reality. We are blessed with the seasonal traffic from the mountains, lakes and the annual racing meet at Saratoga. The area is home to major skiing and fishing events, which are getting national TV coverage. Every weekend Route 30 is filled with New Jersey plates, hauling boats, trailers and ski racks. Think of all the hunters', fishermen (ice and boat), and snowmobilers' wives who would gladly tag along with their friends to spend a weekend shopping, dining and going to the spa while the guys are off in the woods, or on the ice and lakes. Pretty safe to say that a Bass Pro Shops, Cabela's or Dick's Sporting Goods would do pretty well in this location.

We also have the infrastructure to support this. We have a large hotel within feet. The Tepee is blocks away. We have a huge parking garage. The backside of Main Street by the post office is perfect for shipping and receiving to the stores on that block. We have the Riverlink Park. I doubt it would take long for someone ambitious to dock a party boat there for dinner cruises for all those hungry shoppers. I'll also bet that booking more tournaments at the golf course would be a lot easier with the draw of the outlet. We're also soon to have a pedestrian bridge in place, which could actually have a purpose: walking shoppers and diners to the South Side.

Please consider this idea and give it your full support. Mr. Tesiero, you are a smart businessman. You own these properties. This is your opportunity to leave your legacy as the man who brought Amsterdam back. Lawmakers, pool your powers and get us some government funding to make this a reality. Use eminent domain if required to push this through.

Thank you for your time.

Mark Kowalczyk,

Amsterdam

     

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