Hong Kong-based retailer will breathe new life into dead mall
Hong Kong-based China Lesso Group Holdings, by way of its subsidiary Lesso Mall Development Long Island, announced plans to transform the former Source Mall in Westbury into an exciting new type of retail experience; come the summer of 2018, Long Islanders will be able to judge that for themselves as Lesso Home opens its doors in the United States for the first time.
Currently considered a “dead mall” with many vacancies and little foot traffic due to the closing of several large anchor and sub-anchor stores—including high-end retailer Fortunoff—The Source was facing eventual closure and demolition when it was acquired by Lesso in 2017 for $92 million. During a presentation on Oct. 19 held before local business leaders and elected officials in the parking lot of the mall, Lesso executive Michael Mai unveiled a massive banner on the side of the building signaling a rebirth of the once beleaguered retail property.
“Today, we formally announce the arrival of Lesso Home,” he said. “We do so because we have a profound appreciation of this location and the surrounding communities. The Source Mall needed to be reinvented, and that is where we saw an opportunity.”
Mai spoke of Lesso’s $25 million plan to renovate and transform the 512,528-square-foot property into a destination showcasing the Chinese home furnishings industry while providing a unique mix of retail, food and entertainment options in a family-friendly environment when the newly-christened Lesso Home of Westbury opens in the summer of 2018.
Acknowledging that the retail industry in America is facing challenges presented by the growing influence of online retailers, Mai noted that Lesso Home would be bringing something new to the shopping scene that would help them succeed where others had failed.
“A lot of people are probably asking, how can a Hong Kong company succeed in a New York retail market when even savvy New Yorkers are facing difficulties?” he said. “The simple answer is, Lesso Home’s pioneering spirit. We will bring a unique industry showroom and retail experience that is a proven success in our part of China, the Pearl River Downtown. Lesso Home will be a showcase for a broad range of home furnishing products, decor and interior design, all under one roof. Lesso Home will also meet the needs of the industry, and serve retailers and traders coming from the entire east coast.”
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano welcomed Mai and Lesso Home to Westbury, noting that for traditional brick-and-mortar retail to survive in the age of the Internet, they must learn to change with the times; that’s exactly what Lesso Home offers to the public, he said.
“That is why the Lesso concept is so exciting…it not only becomes new space for the consumer, but it’s also a furnishing expo center for the industry, something that we can all be proud of, and something that will attract regional attention on the east coast,” he said. “We are witnessing a rebirth here today…Lesso Home will be taking retail here in on Long Island into the next millennium. We’re so thrilled to have you, and welcome to Nassau County.”
Mai also noted that Lesso Home would become an economic anchor in the heart of Nassau County, generating tax revenue and creating jobs. Several stores that were part of the former Source Mall will be retained in this new venture, including Fortunoff Fine Jewelry, Fortunoff Backyard Store, The Cheesecake Factory, and several others when the venture opens its doors for business next year.
“We look forward to Lesso Home welcoming consumers from Montauk to Manhattan,” Mai said. “I came from Hong Kong to supervise this enormous project, and I know that creativity will take flight at Lesso Home…we believe in the future of Long Island. This is a great place with a dynamic economy and blessed with great people. We begin a new chapter on this legendary property.”