GUILDERLAND — Pyramid Management Group broke ground on one project as another is mired in litigation; all of which is a part of a long-term plan to introduce a “live/work/play” destination for its portfolio of shopping centers.
Pyramid, describing itself as “one of the largest private real estate developers in the Northeast” in a recent press release, broke ground on a 282-unit residential development in Kingston, Massachusetts. The project falls adjacent to the Kingston Collection, a mixed-use complex it owns and manages. When completed, the new residential complex is anticipated to bring market-rate rental housing units to the area, while bringing a flood of foot traffic to its shopping mall.
Pyramid said it plans to replicate the strategy throughout its property portfolio as the popularity of “live/work/play” destinations continues to increase among the U.S. population, and especially within the Millennial and Empty Nester demographics. It follows a similar diversification strategy that brought the addition of hospitality to its Destiny USA flagship property in Syracuse, New York, and Crossgates Mall in Albany.
“The development of a residential complex at our Kingston Collection is really just the beginning of a much broader, portfolio-wide diversification strategy to bring popular, exciting new uses, such as residential, into the mix with our existing assets. We are pleased to be moving forward with other residential projects across our portfolio,” said Stephen J. Congel, CEO of Pyramid Management Group. “Staying ahead of the curve is the key to our success and resilience as a company.”
Data from the International Council of Shopping Centers confirms that retail destinations located near densely-populated residential buildings tend to benefit from higher levels of foot traffic and sales per square foot. Industry analysts also expect that the addition of new residential developments to existing retail destinations such as open-air, enclosed and strip malls will increase over the next few years.
Pyramid had set the plan in motion locally several years ago, and up until recently, it appeared to be under way. After garnering support from the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce, welcoming additional business to the area, Town Hall approved plans for a 160,000-square-foot Costco retail store and an accompanying 222-unit apartment complex spread over five buildings along Rapp Road.
Those plans, however, were thwarted after a group of residents successfully sued in state Supreme Court last November. The court’s decision by Judge Peter Lynch, criticized Pyramid for first hiding plans to build a Costco, and found problems with the town’s Planning Board and how it assessed the project under the state Environmental Quality Review Act.
Opponents to Pyramid’s proposal said the mixed-use property would bring increased traffic, threatening the nearby Albany Pine Bush Preserve and Rapp Road Historic District.
The origins of the Rapp Road Historic District traces back to the early 1930s, during the Great Migration, to escape racial segregation, the Jim Crow laws. It is the only one of its kind in Albany.
Both the town and Pyramid have submitted rebuttals to the November ruling. The town states the project’s proposed location is suitable under the town’s comprehensive plan. Both seek to have the decision reversed.
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