In an age of online shopping, free shipping, and rumors of Prime Air drone deliveries soon to come true, the abandoned Dutchess Mall space off the intersection of Route 9 and I-84 in Fishkill stands as an obvious testament to today’s culture.
It wasn’t always this way, though. The retail center debuted in 1974 as the first mall in Dutchess County: a fairly exciting launch at the time. Anchor stores included the likes of J.W. Mays, Luckey Platt, Flah’s, and Radio Shack.
But competition from the Poughkeepsie Galleria and South Hills Mall, not to mention big-box stores springing up along Route 9, had its way with the center and by 2001, only a flea market remained. A Home Depot, McDonald’s, and a bank now call the lot their home, but it’s a far cry from the thriving retail location it once was.
At long last, it appears hope is returning to the site as Dutchess Community College (DCC) has announced it will be moving their South campus into the J.W. Mays building in fall 2020.
The state-of-the-art, 47,000-sq-foot space will be the new satellite location, replacing the current DCC South campus in Wappingers Falls. And like that campus, the new facility “will offer classes leading to an associate degree or certificate, workforce training, and other opportunities for individuals of all ages…,” says DCC president Pamela Edington.
The new campus will be 25 percent larger than the current space, with increased parking spaces and 18 classrooms that will occupy most of the top floor of the two-story building. The move will also make higher education more accessible with its prime location.
DCC has signed a 15-year lease for space in the building, which is still owned by J.W. Mays Corp. An additional 150,000 sq ft is still available, with the hope being that the college’s presence will attract other tenants to provide retail or dining to students, faculty and staff on site.
“The Dutchess Mall has been underutilized for decades,” says Bob LaColla, Fishkill Town Supervisor. “The presence of the school is expected to attract people from other counties who will likely take advantage of the many shops, restaurants, and gas stations in the town and village.”
So, after nearly two decades of boarded up windows and sad reminders of days gone-by, there may be hope yet for this historic piece of Dutchess County property. As for Dutchess Marketplace, the flea market that had been on the grounds since 2013, it is now permanently closed in Fishkill. Its operators are currently on the hunt for potential venues and next steps in the Hudson Valley region.