Hyatt Place in Cross County’s Place

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FullSizeRenderImagine going to a mall and after a long day of Louis Vuitton and Hermes Handbag shopping sprees you suddenly stumble upon a 155 Room business traveler’s hotel, perfect right?

Well for the Kardashian in us all perhaps but for the actual residents of Yonkers, not sure I can say the same.

The Hyatt Place Hotel opened its doors this month and along with its swanky hotel lobby and indoor pool which is currently under construction, one would have to look far and wide as to how the City of Yonkers, the people themselves, actually benefit from the monstrosity.

I took a stroll over to the hotel yesterday and here’s what I found…

First off…it’s weird to look up past the store fronts and see the same exact steel beams that once housed the hospital building now holding up this…

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Look it is what it is.  They took an upscale hotel chain and plopped it right in the middle of the Country’s oldest outdoor mall.

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There’s an entrance for key card holding guests from the mall…

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And some other highlights of the Hotel include the lobby which is actually pretty nice and does have a ton of seating for an evening glass of wine or appetizers.

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And there’s a giant satellite photo of the Cross County area, in case you forgot where you were…

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Very nice swanky seats and lounge chairs…well worth the $165-$250 a night they charge per room and depending on room size and day of the month and a myriad of other factors.

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Like I said, the lobby is actually a nice place to sit and have a drink but other than that…not sure I’m impressed with much else of the Hyatt Place…

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I’m not trying to play the role of grumpy old man here but when the Cross County Shopping Center was built, it served the community it surrounded, as did the Hospital that bore its name, but this?  Not sure Yonkers will benefit at all other than a few more jobs and some tax revenue.

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By the time I came along in the early 80’s, the Cross County Hospital was a shell of its former-self and was more used as an office building for the mall than anything else and certainly in the last few years, hell even decade, it did become a bit of an eyesore…

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Far from its glory days of the 60’s and 70’s, so many Yonkers babies were born here within the same steel beams that now house the weary business traveler and the compulsive gambler…

165277_184743224883690_100000440417040_578033_1052409_n CC04bFullSizeRenderMy heart truly yearns to see the City not just survive but thrive.

Cross County has been in the midst of a decade long revitalization with costs estimated in the $150-200 Million dollar range that the owners have shelled out to make the area what it once was.

Hyatt Place…not the answer Cross County, sorry.

It serves a small consortium of people who have no vested interest in the city or the mall for that matter.

It will serve the businessman who wants to stay there so that the casino is a hop skip and a jump away.  It will serve upper Socio-Economic families who want to spoil themselves while visiting their roots in Yonkers and the surrounding area for a weekend.

And it will serve the young foolish yuppies who have more expendable income than they know what to do with and feel that paying $200 a night for a hotel in Cross County is a value too good to pass up.

Again though…what about the City itself?

Where does it leave the city of gracious living and the people who could have benefited from the services the building could have otherwise offered had it been designated for other purposes such as education, health care, business, etc.

I’m sure in 10 years, we will all forget what life was like without the Hotel sitting there but for now, old habits and sights and IMG_3963eyesores die-hard.

The best case for the city of course will be the raging success of the Hyatt, so that it too won’t become a former shell of itself and sit vacant for decades.

Perhaps the ghosts in the steel beams of the Hospital have other plans though and this property will become a black hole of sorts where any business that dares to take up shop will forever remain in the red, broke and penniless.

For more info on the Hyatt Place, click here and see if there’s any vacancies…and for those who haven’t been to Cross County in a while, they’ve since plopped a Red lobster, Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse in the vacant areas of the parking lot of the mall.

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So plenty of rooms and plenty of places to eat at Cross County…for now.

—Josh

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My Younkers???

Back in May, I was working in Wisconsin for the month and since I’m just like any other American, I decided to hit the mall for some downtime.  Most of the time, you might see Sears or Macy’s at the mall, but as I turned a corner, I found this…

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Imagine this store in Cross County or Getty Square, I mean it would probably be guaranteed business if not for the ease in regard to its name and convenience.  Apparently it is a subsidiary of a larger chain of department stores in the Midwest and even Northeast.

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Inside of course you find all the goodies you would find in any other store, but I couldn’t resist walking up to a lonely employee to show her where Yonkers NY was on a map and emphatically illustrate the connection…but finding one was an issue.

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Much like some other abandoned structures and places in the real Yonkers, Younkers Department Store was also a ghost town, void of shoppers or employees, I think I see some old guy near the back…damn it, it’s too late he actually went into the back.

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Well abandoned or not, the store lives on.  I’m sure if I went on a five-minute looting spree, rent-a-cops galore would spring into action like flies on you know what, so I casually just walked out.

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Why doesn’t Yonkers have a cool looking NEON sign like this?  Perhaps by the pier? Central Ave?  Cross County? Hell even prop it up on top of the Seminary Communication Tower so travelers from afar can see that the City of Gracious Living, is just over those damn hills.

–Josh

The Bronze Shoppers of Scottsdale

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IMG_0816Many hidden entities disguise themselves in malls across America, such as the Indian at the Westchester Mall and in Scottsdale, AZ, where the tender sight of a mother and daughter spending a day shopping at the mall is permanently affixed to a fountain near the food court, encased in bronze and frozen in time.

As far as I know, the statue has been there since the early 1990’s when the Scottsdale Fashion Mall IMG_0807opened up, giving residents a wider and more modern variety of stores and sadly, defuncting in the process the older Los Arcos Mall located just down the street and made famous by such movies as Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

While in the food court with its massive atrium and natural lighting, many passersby probably have never taken the time to appreciate the life-like statue, with its beautiful detailing of a mother dressed in a business suit, a child holding her teddy bear and a bundle of gifts, perhaps the end of a long day of holiday shopping for the two of them.

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Even the mother’s purse is depicted with amazing and beautiful detail.

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These moments suspend time in my opinion, as we all probably have statues in our minds such as this one of ourselves with our parents.

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Shopping at Cross County, Getty Square, The Galleria in White Plains or wherever, spending the day with our Mothers, carrying around countless numbers of shopping bags with us and not thinking about prices or logistics or anything of an adult nature is something special to say the least.

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For me, living across the street from Cross County as a kid and also trekking not only to White Plains but into the big city itself, memories of train rides home, cab rides home, walking home as the snow just begins to fall in the evening; they are all as clear and detailed in my mind as the statue represents.

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Riding the Metro North train home from Grand Central, sandwiched between the train window and about a dozen Macy’s bags, the dark sky on the outside and the warmth of the train inside, my Mom nodding off and having to remind her that Fleetwood is the next stop; all of these were my accoutrements of a perfect day and just as with the statue, are forever frozen in time for me to enjoy.

Mom & Josh-1990IMG_0808I love this statue for what it represents; a time in our youth when being with your Mom did matter and was the only place in the world you can ever imagine being.

If you ever find yourself at the Scottsdale Mall, take time out to sit beside this bronze family and marvel at the beauty, the wonder and love of a mother and daughter and an intimate invitation into their world, after a long day of shopping and creating life-long memories.

–Josh

The Indian at the Westchester

chief3 copychief3For those of you who prefer the trendy upscale environment of the Westchester Mall, a few miles north of Yonkers in White Plains, it’s nice to know that while you are being watched by the hoards of shoppers, the kiosk salesmen and of course, the brave men and women of mall security, another pair of eyes watches over what used to be rightfully his.

Meet Chief, Orawaupum, head of the Weckquaeskeck Tribe and the original inhabitants of the land that would one day be renamed White Plains by the British and also where residential high rises and commercial properties would run amok.

White Plains comprises 4,435 acres and in 1683, the Chief was made a fateful offer by the British to sell his land to them and according to legend, the site of the Westchester Mall is the exact location where the deeds were signed and a feast ensued, celebrating the land acquisition.

The original name of the city was refered to as “Land Quarropas”, loosely translated, it means “White Marshes” or as you and I know it, “White Plains”, a reference the native people gave the natural landscape due to the white fog that would hand over the rolling hills of Southern Westchester and the swamps that used to dot the area.

 

Personally, I like the big Chief keeping an eye on things at the mall and ever since I was a kid, I have always pointed him out to anyone I was with, feeling proud that while most shoppers pass him by each day, I always knew who the real Chief of the Westchester Mall was.

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He can be a little hard to find but if you make your way toward the new Microsoft Store on Level one, you’ll find him in one of the plant areas that line the middle of the mallwalk.

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It’s always good to know who came first when in various situations and while the Chief probably would not have much use for a Thomas Kincaid Painting or a Louis Vuitton whatever…I think he would enjoy watching the people enjoy his land, just as his people did over 200 years ago.

—Josh