As Central New York approached Phase Two of Governor Cuomo's phased reopening plan last week, it appeared certain retail stores inside Destiny USA would be able to open their doors again. However, that wasn't quite the case.

After not getting the go-ahead to open with other retailers, Pyramid Management Group, which owns Destiny, released a statement Tuesday, detailing the importance of opening.

"Our retailers and their employees were anticipating the scheduled Phase Two re-opening on Friday as a way to get back to work and begin supporting their families and our local economies," PMG said in the statement. "Re-opening is key to the survival of these retailers, many of which are locally owned and are now in grave danger of never being able to open their doors."

Mike Theiss owns University Sport Shop, a local business with one location inside Destiny. He told CNYCentral about the stresses the pandemic has caused.

"It has been difficult, there is a lot of uncertainty on where the future lies," Theiss told CNYCentral. "We expect it will be a little slower when we reopen, so it has been tough to handle. There’s been a lot of sleepless nights."

The last-minute decision to not allow businesses inside Destiny to open with other retailers in Phase Two was surprising and frustrating for business owners like Theiss.

"The governor appointed a regional commission to work on the phases of reopening and then he did not follow them. He unilaterally decided at the last minute that the mall was not going to be part of phase two," Theiss told CNYCentral. "It is very frustrating. We have managed to figure out how to grocery shop and go to the hardware store for the last ten weeks, so why can’t we figure out how to go shopping here?"

PMG said they invested a "considerable" amount of time and money into opening safely and responsibly, and that, with their Healthy Shopper Guidelines that parallel guidelines from the CDC, a safe reopening would be plausible.

"We hope the State will re-consider its surprising decision over the coming days and urge it to allow enclosed shopping centers to open alongside other retailers in Phase Two," PMG said in the statement. "Thousands of jobs, businesses, livelihoods and regional economies are depending on it. We are ready to open with the health and well-being of our guests, retailers and their employees a top priority."

Courtesy of Pyramid Management Group
Courtesy of Pyramid Management Group

A spokesperson from Governor Cuomo's office responded to PMG's statement to clarify the decision to keep retailers inside New York malls, including Destiny, closed in Phase Two.

According to NYup, spokesperson Jason Conwall said malls have more enclosed areas than individual retailers that allow more than the allotted number of ten people to congregate at one time. He also said malls encourage people to "window shop" rather than just purchase the items they need and leave.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon announced that Destiny would open in Phase Two last week during a coronavirus briefing and stressed that restaurants and entertainment businesses would remain closed for the time being. He also stressed that Destiny would not be a place to just go hang out... at least not yet.

"You're going to Destiny to go buy some summer clothes for your kids or go buy this or that. That's what you're going there for," McMahon said. "This isn't a spot to drop off six or seven teens to go hang out for a day. We're not there yet. At some point, we'll be there. But that's just not where we are right now."

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Retail, administrative support, real estate, and professional services businesses were allowed to open under Phase Two.

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