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Harte Haven owner now making pitch for Dick’s Sporting Goods in Massena

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MASSENA - St. Lawrence Centre mall officials announced in May that Dick’s Sporting Goods had signed a lease to open a store in St. Lawrence Centre in the space previously occupied by TJ Maxx.

Plans called for work to start on renovating the store last fall, with a projected opening date of spring 2014.

But eight months after that announcement there is no sign of activity in the former TJ Maxx store site at the mall.

St. Lawrence Centre Marketing Manager Ronald J. Patnode said Wednesday the mall still has a lease with Dick’s, and he’s not expecting them to open elsewhere in Massena.

But Michael Wachs, who owns the Harte Haven Shopping Center in Massena, said the opportunity to bring a Dick’s Sporting Goods store to Massena is one that cannot be passed up, regardless of where the store might locate.

“The fact of the matter is that Dick’s Sporting Goods, the preeminent sporting goods retailer in America, has been interested in opening a prototypical facility in Massena,” Mr. Wachs said.

The question though is where will that store be?

“We have an agreement with Dick’s,” Mr. Patnode said. “I know we still have a couple of outstanding issues that need to be worked out, but I’m not privy to talks of them locating elsewhere.”

Among the hurdles facing the mall is a clause in the lease of Sears and JC Penney.

St. Lawrence Centre General Manager David Viola said both stores must authorize “dramatic changes” at the mall.

“Opening a Dick’s would be a dramatic change,” Mr. Viola said, noting that the mall has received that authorization from Sears.

“Sears signed off on it right away,” Mr. Viola said, adding that Bon Ton, the mall’s other anchor tenant, does not have that clause in its lease.

If the mall is unable to seal the deal, Mr. Wachs said he would be happy to help ensure the retailer opens up shop in Massena.

“As had been previously announced, there was an executed lease between St. Lawrence Centre and Dick’s,” he said. “To date no progress has been made and the constant is Dick’s remains interested in locating a store in Massena.”

Recognizing that such a store would bring thousands of people to the area from outside Massena, Mr. Wachs said the opening of a Dick’s store would be good news for the local economy.

“As an individual with a vested interest in the well-being and future growth of Massena, I would applaud Dick’s for locating anywhere in the Massena community,” he said. “The desire by Dick’s Sporting Goods to grand open in Massena is an opportunity that should see its way to fruition, and I would be pleased to assist in helping to make this a reality.”

Given that the Harte Haven Shopping Center will soon be at 100 percent capacity, Mr. Wachs said he realizes that opening a Dick’s in his plaza would require additional construction.

“If the opportunity presented itself to accommodate Dick’s Sporting Goods at the Harte Haven Shopping Center, we would certainly do so,” he said.

A phone call to Dick’s media relations hotline Wednesday afternoon was not returned.

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