Simon Property Group Walks Back Plans to Open Woodbury Common, The Westchester on May 16

John Jordan | May 2020

Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group announced on Tuesday that it plans to open its New York State retail properties, including Woodbury Common Premium Outlet in Central Valley and The Westchester in White Plains, on May 16.

The planned opening of the two popular retail properties, along with other Simon retail properties on Long Island and upstate, coincides with the expiration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “New York on Pause” restrictions that have shuttered most large retail properties in New York. However, Gov. Cuomo in his daily COVID-19 briefings has stated he will institute a phased-reopening of New York State and likely will begin in less populated areas of the state that have not seen the significant impacts that downstate areas, including Westchester and Orange counties, have seen from the pandemic.

However, New York State Senator David Carlucci released a statement today that Simon will in fact be guided by Gov. Cuomo’s reopening plan, despite the announcement. When contacted by Real Estate In-Depth, the company pointed to its property opening announcement and had no further comment.

“I have spoken with Simon Property Group, and they have reassured me that their malls in New York State are not reopening on May 16th, despite guidance they released,” Sen. Carlucci said. “They said they are looking to work with the state so any reopening is done safely and responsibly. I appreciate their correction on this matter, as it caused some alarm in the Hudson Valley where we have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Carlucci in an earlier statement noted that Westchester, Rockland and Orange Counties have not met the governor’s safety guidelines and noted, “I am doubtful malls will be able to reopen on May 16th, but I hope in the near future that we can get our economy safely back up and running.”

Simon reported on Tuesday that it had reopened 59 properties and is planning to reopen another 18 properties within the next week. Other Simon properties in New York scheduled to open on May 16 are: Roosevelt Field in Garden City; Smith Haven mall in Lake Grove; Walt Whitman Shops in South Huntington, Waterloo Premium Outlets in Waterloo.

Simon Property Group President and Chief Administrative Officer John Rulli stated in the firm’s property opening announcement, that it would establish a host of safety protocols, including preemptive employee screening, employee safety protections, promotion and enforcement of social distancing and occupancy limitations and monitoring and others.

In terms of occupancy limitations, the company states it will utilize existing traffic measurement technologies at its properties to ensure that overall property occupancy does not exceed a targeted level of one person per 50 square feet of space.

“As needed, we will restrict the number of open entrances to the property while complying with local fire code requirements, and have queueing protocols in place to manage traffic. Each tenant will be responsible for managing to targets set by state or local authorities for their leased spaces,” Simon stated.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth