It used to be every city had a downtown. And especially during the holiday season, that’s where everyone headed. Today, Kingston has several—Uptown, the Rondout, and Midtown. Within and without these precincts, it has other retail clusters, of which one of the most noteworthy is Kingston Plaza.
The plaza is really an extension of Uptown, abutting the large parking area where the parking garage used to be (the refuge of shoppers seeking to avoid the annoying meters). It’s owned by Herzog’s, developed by the grandfather of Herzog president Brad Jordan and a partner. When the strip opened in the early 1960s, it was a Kingston first.
The 45-acre plaza contains 312,000 square feet and has 35 stores, which represent a healthy mix of retail and professional offices, national chains and local businesses. According to Jordan, 19 of the locations are local businesses, including franchises. There are four eateries—Blimpie’s, Plaza Pizza, Chic’s and B&B Bagels—Radio Shack, Just a Buck (a locally owned dollar store), Artcraft Camera and Digital, JK’s Wine and Liquor, a bank, two barbers, a beauty supply company, travel agency, H&R Block Tax Service, dentist and physical therapy center. A few stores go back decades; Style Fabric, for example, has been there from the beginning and is on its fourth owner.
The Grand Union is now a Hannaford’s. Walgreens was also an original tenant, although now it has its own building (the former location of Sears Auto). Obviously, “we try not to lease to businesses that compete with each other, although there is some product overlap, said Jordan.
The most challenging space to lease has been the 80,000-sqaure-foot building that was the former Ames (followed by Steve and Barry’s discount clothing). The paucity of large department stores and their ilk has made the structure a white elephant. Rather than sell the building, the owners are reconfiguring it. MAC Gymnasium now occupies 22,000 square feet, and in February Wells Fargo Advisory will open in another 4,000 square feet.
The large parking area to the side of Hannaford’s is a popular venue for special attractions. Coleman Brothers Circus takes up residence in the late summer; it’s hosted by the Kingston Police Department, who use the proceeds to raise funds for Kingston Gold Shields. The Babe Ruth League and the Kingston high school football team also utilize the land. “We do a tremendous amount of promotion there,” said Jordan.
Herzog’s itself is a star attraction of the plaza, of course. Starting out as a paint store in Rondout, which was opened in 1909 by Matthew Herzog, Brad’s great grandfather, Herzog’s also owns four other paint stores, two in the Poughkeepsie area and two in Albany. Jordan said the store has prospered, despite competition from the big box stores. The key was diversification of its product mix, with garden and decorating centers added in recent years. He also attributed Herzog’s success to its excellent customer service.
Jordan said the Internet and the growing trend of online shopping have hurt the traditional malls more than Kingston Plaza, thanks to its lower operating costs. The typical lease is five years, with leases to national chains ranging from 10 to 12 years. “Local tenants can survive and thrive here,” concluded Jordan.