Destiny USA (also known by its former name, Carousel Center, 1990–2012) is a six-story, automobile-oriented super-regional shopping and entertainment complex in Central New York on the shore of Onondaga Lake in the city of Syracuse. It is the largest shopping mall in New York. Main anchor stores include Macy's, At Home, Dick's Sporting Goods, Burlington Coat Factory, Forever 21, DSW, Old Navy, Nordstrom Rack, and TJ Maxx. There are vacant anchors left by JCPenney, Lord & Taylor, Bon-Ton, Best Buy, Saks Off 5th, and Michaels.
|Location||Syracuse, New York, United States|
|Address||9090 Destiny USA Dr, Syracuse, NY 13204|
|Opening date||October 15, 1990|
|Developer||The Pyramid Companies|
|Owner||The Pyramid Companies|
|No. of stores and services||239|
|No. of anchor tenants||19 (14 open, 5 vacant)|
|Total retail floor area||2,400,000 sq ft (220,000 m2)|
|No. of floors||6 (4 retail)|
Destiny USA opened on October 15, 1990 as the Carousel Center mall. The mall has six above-ground floors and one underground floor. The lower three floors and the underground floor are used for retail shops. The first and second floors span the length of the mall and house the various shops, vendors, restaurants, and entertainment venues, with the major food court and namesake carousel located on the second floor. The third floor includes a 19-screen Regal Cinemas, restaurants, and entertainment options. The fourth floor is primarily administrative offices. The underground floor, known as the Commons floor, houses medium-sized stores, a chapel, kiosks, and two underground parking garages. One underground garage once housed Best Buy's installation center, which closed with the store in 2021. The Commons floor does not span the full length of the mall and is in only the original mall structure built in 1990, not the 2012 addition.
Destiny USA has outside parking surrounding the mall on nearly all sides. On the Hiawatha Boulevard side, additional parking lots are located across the street from the mall and a pedestrian bridge was built to connect the parking lot to the second floor of the 2012 addition. Parking includes one above-ground and two underground parking garages. The mall is served by CENTRO buses. There are main entrances on nearly all sides of the mall. Other entrances are located through the anchor stores and from the underground parking lots.
Background and ConstructionEdit
The site of Destiny USA was originally a landfill named Marley Scrap Yard, surrounded by several square blocks of oil tanks, collectively named "Oil City". South of these oil tanks sat the Franklin Square industrial neighborhood. In 1987, The Pyramid Companies studied redevelopment of the neighborhood. In July 1987, The Pyramid Companies announced plans for a 1,000,000 sq ft (93,000 m2) shopping center at the scrap yard site. The plan caused controversy with other local shopping centers and malls. The Galleries of Syracuse, a smaller mall (now offices) had recently finished construction in Downtown Syracuse and there was concern that the mall at Oil City would put an end to downtown retail.
Two of the biggest opponents to the project were the competing mall developers in the area, Wilmorite Corp. and Eagan Real Estate Inc, which both operated several malls in Syracuse's suburbs. Wilmorite, which was building the Great Northern Mall in the nearby town of Clay, was accused by the Syracuse city government of using associates in Connecticut to form the "Citizen's League for an Environmentally Acceptable Northeast," which lobbied against construction of the Carousel Center mall at Oil City. Eagan meanwhile filed criticism of the mall, claiming that a 25-percent drop in downtown retail sales would occur if the mall were built. It proposed an additional downtown mall with a "Walt Disney-like attraction."
During construction the mall faced several delays, primarily around environmental cleanup, as the site is a brownfield cleanup site. The mall opened on October 15, 1990, as Carousel Center, named for the 1908 Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters (PTC) carousel, PTC #18 operating within the mall.
When it opened, Carousel Center featured a unique mix of discount and upscale department stores. Charter anchors included JCPenney, Kaufmann's, Steinbach, Lechmere, Chappell's, Hills, and the last Bonwit Teller ever built. Each department store was two levels, except Steinbach and Lechmere shared a building, with a store on each level, as well as Chappell's and Hills. A basement "Commons" area featured covered parking and additional junior anchors, including The Rx Place and Filene's Basement.
Another unique feature of the mall was the Skydeck, which was on the top levels of the central tower. This offered an events space that would be used for fundraisers, proms, fashion shows, and many public and private uses.
In 1990, The Pyramid Companies began clearing oil tanks south of the mall for a strip center called Carousel Landing, which would feature 650,000 square feet of additional retail.
In 1992, Chappell's became The Bon Ton because of a merger with the parent company.
In 1994, Lord & Taylor opened as the last new anchor, removing the remaining oil tanks on the property. The same year, Borders Books & Music opened a two-level store, replacing a side corridor with entrance.
In 1996, Steinbach was replaced with Home Place, a Northeast-based upscale home furnishings store, which closed two years later. Nobody Beats the Wiz also opened in 1996 in the Commons level, but had an even shorter life: it opened in the summer of 1996 and closed by the end of 1997 due to the chain's financial troubles.
In November 1997, less than a month after Lechmere closed (a result of parent company Montgomery Ward eliminating the chain), the Pyramid Companies announced they would build an expansion to Carousel Center that would double the mall size instead of building Carousel Landing. Under this plan, the expansion would house about 150 new stores and three anchors, with many of the stores both new to the market and often not found in traditional malls. The Pyramid Companies officials claimed the expansion would be complete by the year 2000.
In 1999, Hills was acquired and rebranded by Ames Department Stores. In March 1999, DSW Shoe Warehouse opened in part of the former Lechmere. In October 1999, Bally Total Fitness opened with a grand opening featuring the cast of Baywatch. The Bally Total Fitness filled in the remaining part of HomePlace/Steinbach location that wasn't occupied by Best Buy.
2000s and Potential ExpansionsEdit
In March 2000, Bonwit Teller closed their location at the mall as the chain filed for bankruptcy. The space was taken later that year by one of the first American locations of H&M. It was also the first mall location. In May of that year, Kaufmann's Furniture Galleries opened in the mall, in the other half of the former Lechmere.
In 2001, Xpress Place (formerly The Rx Place) closed as the parent company Phar-Mor went bankrupt.
In 2001, The Pyramid Companies cancelled the previous expansion project that would double the size of the mall for a project that would triple the size of the mall instead. The new project proposed to rename the mall from Carousel Center to "DestiNY USA". The Skydeck was closed for new administrative offices for the megamall. The Pyramid Companies promised an extravagant experience in which diners could eat at restaurants while watching people in wave pools, or visiting the aquarium on the site, among other things. There would also be a large Central New York Visitors Center inside the mall. However, the path to DestiNY USA would not be easy. The Pyramid Companies needed public funds and tax breaks to make the project possible and people worried the mall would be obsolete before all of it was paid. Eventually it was decided the mall would be developed in phases, with an 800,000 square foot addition built first. Despite this, The Pyramid Companies continued to unveil further plans for Destiny USA, including a year-round glass-enclosed park and amphitheaters. Eventually, the large tax breaks and the magnitude of the project would cause much controversy.
In 2002, Ames closed when its corporate parent company went bankrupt. At about the time of Ames closing, construction of the $180 million, 47 floor, 1,300 room Grand Destiny hotel purportedly began with a ceremony during which a steel beam was driven into a Carousel Center parking lot. At least 40 more pilings were driven over the next three weeks, but construction stopped by December 2. The stated reason was a dispute about whether this hotel would be considered "leasable space", which is a term used in the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement between the county and the developer.
In September 2006, Kaufmann's was converted into a Macy's, though the Kaufmann's Furniture Galleries was closed. CompUSA earlier that year, closed down as a result of closures of 15 underperforming stores.
In 2007, The Pyramid Companies moved forward with the first phase of Destiny USA (the NY no longer emphasized at this point): a new addition that would add 800,000 square feet (74,000 m2) to Carousel Center. Part of Borders was closed down, including the exterior entrance. Additionally, H&M's exterior entrance was sealed, demolishing a covered drive-up dating back to the days as a Bonwit Teller. The project was planned to be a green building, powered entirely by renewable resources. Preparatory groundwork for the first phase, a 1.3-million-square-foot (120,000 m2) expansion of the 1.5-million-square-foot (140,000 m2) Carousel Center, began in April 2007, and pile driving for the structure's foundation began on August 9, 2007. Above-ground construction began on March 28, 2008.
The Pyramid Companies never announced any tenants for this new addition. In August 2008, it was announced that about 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2) would be dedicated to a "Made in Italy" section with 27,000 square feet (2,500 m2) for restaurants, wine bars, and coffee bars and 150 stores with Italian brands and products.
Despite the fact that Steve & Barry's closed in late 2008 and Circuit City closed in early 2009 due to the respective bankruptcies, The Pyramid Companies announced that the new addition would be called "Arendi", which would not feature a miniature re-creation of the Erie Canal as planned. Shortly thereafter, Citigroup, the primary construction lender, stopped funding the Destiny USA project. Citigroup said that Destiny USA had no tenants lined up for the mall expansion and wanted The Pyramid Companies to cover $15.2 million in cost overruns. As a result, construction came to a virtual halt with the last work happening in August 2009, when workers enclosed the unfinished addition.During this time, it was leaked that Arendi would use RFID technology but required tenants to turn over profits to Destiny USA. Courtroom battles continued during this time, and the mall cycled through tenants.
2010s, Expansion, and Name ChangeEdit
A short-lived Ultimate Electronics (in the old Circuit City space) opened in August 2010  but closed in April 2011. Borders closed in January 2011 due to lease disagreements, months before the chain would go out of business as a whole.
In May 2011, an agreement between Citigroup and The Pyramid Companies was finalized and the addition continued. This time, the "Arendi" name and scheme was dropped in favor of a retail mix featuring entertainment, luxury stores, and outlet stores. Documents from the trial showed several stores leased in the new expansion, including Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th. In June 2011, the Syracuse Post-Standard asked people to email the newspaper ideas of what people would like to see in Destiny USA, with Destiny officials listening in. Residents listed several ideas, including entertainment venues like Dave & Buster's, upscale department stores like Neiman Marcus, and restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory, but nothing was officially announced. It was mentioned that the "Made In Italy" feature had fallen through.
During the summer and into the fall of 2011, many new tenants were announced for the addition, including The Melting Pot, Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill, Lenox china, and many others. In November 2011, parts of the new addition opened mostly featuring temporary holiday stores and signs showing yet to come. About this time, but announced earlier that year Forever 21 and H&M switched locations within the mall, with H&M taking a large in-line space that replaced the old Forever 21 and part of the Borders, while Forever 21 moved to the old H&M, which extruded the original storefront.
In June 2012, it was announced that any further expansions to Destiny USA (including the glass-enclosed park, water features, hotels and technology park) were officially cancelled.
By late summer of 2012, the CarouselCenter.com webpage merged in with the DestinyUSA.com webpage, as new signage went up. In August 2012, the mall's name officially changed to "Destiny USA", ending all references to Carousel Center. New major stores in the mall included Burlington Coat Factory in the Commons level, Dick's Sporting Goods and Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th. P.F. Chang's restaurant also opened. New amusement activities opened including WonderWorks, Dave and Buster's, Billy Beez Indoor Play Park, Revolutions Entertainment (later All-Star Alley & Tavern and currently Apex Entertainment); a bowling and restaurant venue with a bar and dance area, RPM Raceway Indoor Karting (formerly Pole Position Raceway), and Canyon Climb, the world's largest indoor rope course.
On January 4, 2015 it was announced via the Destiny USA website that Nordstrom, Inc. would be opening a Nordstrom Rack retail store. The 33,357-square-foot store opened in fall of 2015. The new store is located on the first level. Michaels also opened this year as well.  The Bon-Ton announced that it would close its store in the mall in late 2015. In June 2016, Sports Authority closed due to the company filing for bankruptcy. In January 2017, Destiny USA announced that Revolutions would close at the end of the month but would be reopening under new management. In October 2016, the former Hills/Ames and Sports Authority store was filled with At Home.
On June 14, 2019, it was announced that Saks Off 5th would be closing permanently.
On June 4, 2020, it was announced that JCPenney would be closing as part of a plan to close 154 stores nationwide. The store closed on October 18, 2020.
On August 2, 2020, it was announced that Lord & Taylor would also be closing on December 29, 2020 as part of a plan to close all 38 stores nationwide.
On January 20, 2021, it was announced that Best Buy would be closing as well in March 2021 as part of a plan to close 5 stores nationwide. This left At Home, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Macy's as the only traditional anchors left.
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- "Bon-Ton closing stores in W. Virginia, Ohio and New York". York Dispatch. October 21, 2015. Archived from the original on October 25, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
- "Upscale bowling alley at Destiny USA set to close this week". syracuse.com. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
- "Home furnishing superstore opens today at Destiny USA".
- "Destiny USA Embassy Suites opens $48 million hotel, see first photos". syracuse.com. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
- "Several local JCPenney stores closing, including Destiny USA location". WSYR. June 4, 2020.