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Wachs confident Harte Haven vacancy to be filled soon

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MASSENA - The owner of Harte Haven Shopping Center said he’s confident the vacancy created by the closure of Fashion Bug will be filled quickly.

“We don’t have anything tied down yet,” Michael Wachs said, adding he’s also planning to add onto the plaza with the construction of a new building between Burger King and the Massena Arena.

Mr. Wachs said he has been in talks with Tim Horton’s, but hasn’t been able to get a confirmation from them.

“I feel a great location would be between Burger King and the arena. That would be a great spot for any merchant, not just Tim Horton’s,” he said. “I think that’s one of the most prominent and desirable locations in all of Massena and St. Lawrence County.”

Mr. Wachs said locating a business there would require building, but that’s something he’s willing to do.

“In addition to standing in front of the Harte Haven Shopping Center, which is anchored by TJ Maxx, Price Chopper, Tractor Supply Co. and Movie Plex 8, you’re also in front of the Massena Arena, which is a regional draw,” he said.

While building in front of the arena would put a dent in available parking for the arena, Mayor James F. Hidy said he’s confident that arrangements could be made to ensure the arena still has adequate parking.

“He is the owner of the property and a developer,” Mr. Hidy said. “Obviously it would impact the parking, but on the other hand it would also create more tax dollars and revenue for the community, as well as jobs.”

Mr. Hidy said it might take come creative thinking, but he’s sure that arena patrons won’t be left without a place to park.

“I’m sure in some fashion we could come up with a parking solution,” he said. “There is property behind the arena that could be used for parking. We would just have to collectively look at our options.”

Mr. Wachs said recent trends in Massena’s retail scene leave him confident that the vacancy, which wasn’t because of anything connected to the plaza or the success of Massena’s Fashion Bug store, will be filled soon. A larger company purchased Fashion Bug’s parent company, which also owns and operates Maurice’s and Lane Bryant, and closed every Fashion Bug store in the U.S.

“That’s not a reflection of Massena and the Harte Haven Shopping Center,” he said.

Mr. Wachs said when Wal-Mart relocated from outside of the village into the village, everything changed.

“When Wal-Mart relocated, it changed the retail trajectory irrevocably in Massena and St. Lawrence County,” he said. “In addition to Wal-Mart, TJ Maxx, Gamestop, Rent-A-Center, Radio Shack and Sally Beauty, to name a few, not only have relocated stores to the Harte Haven Shopping Center, they put their most current prototypes within their corporate arsenal right into the Harte Haven Shopping Center.”

Mr. Wachs also noted that other businesses not previously tied to Massena have also opened up in the plaza, including Price Chopper and Tractor Supply.

Mr. Wachs, who has owned the plaza since 1987, said he’s noticed a lot of changes over the years, but through all of the changes, both good and bad, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed and that’s his commitment to Massena.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years,” he said. “We’re (Michael Wachs Investments) as committed as we’ve ever been to maintaining the shopping center’s relevance.”

And while there may be a vacancy in the plaza for now, Mr. Wachs said he hopes the community appreciates his efforts.

“We remain hopeful that the community is pleased with our efforts,” he said.

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