Ulster town supervisor James Quigley says that the rumors of Health Quest taking over the former Macy’s at the Hudson Valley Mall are more than just rumors. Quigley said Tuesday that he’d been told by James Hull, owner and principal of the Georgia-based Hull Property Group, the new owners of the Hudson Valley Mall, that the expanding Poughkeepsie-based healthcare provider had signed a letter of intent related to a preliminary site plan to turn the 81,000-square-foot former department store into a medical center offering a wide range of patient-care options.
“When I spoke to Mr. Hull on Sunday, he confirmed for me that they have signed a letter of intent for this project, and that Health Quest will be approaching the town in the near future to discuss the planning and approval process,” Quigley said. “This is not a dream.”
Quigley said the occupancy makes perfect sense in today’s shifting retail climate. “Traffic is the key to retail,” Quigley said. “We’ve had ongoing discussions about the changing form of retailing. We’ve had discussions about how difficult it was going to be to try to replace anchor tenants like Macy’s and Penney’s with like-kind of stores when all the retailers of that size and caliber are facing the same challenges in the marketplace. Hull has written a check and he’s closed on title. So now he’s challenged with fixing the property, and by bringing in an 80,000-square-foot office space to a location that has at this point in time too much retail and converting it to a non-retail use, a serious amount of foot traffic will come to the area. That can only help the retailers that are trying to make a go of it at the mall.”
Almost a year ago, Health Quest consolidated some medical offices in 15,000 square feet at Kingston Plaza in Kingston at a cost of $1.8 million. It provides primary care, obstetrics, gynecology and rheumatology services at that facility. The Hudson Valley-based group of non-profit hospitals and healthcare providers, which already has the largest network of primary-care providers in Ulster County, according to Health Quest senior vice-president of public affairs and government relations Tim Massie, is also planning new medical centers in Poughkeepsie and Lloyd.
Massie said that James Hull talked to Health Quest for the first time in the second half of last year. Hull was aware of Health Quest’s interest before he closed on the mall property early last month.
According to preliminary site plans, considerable construction would be undertaken to convert the former Macy’s into a Health Quest hub. These plans envisage keeping the building separate from the rest of the mall save for a walkway. An opening is anticipated some time in 2019.
On the west side of the Hudson River, Health Quest Medical Practice has primary-care sites in Kingston, Highland, Modena, Woodstock and Boiceville. It also provides specialty care at sites in Kingston, Saugerties, Ellenville, New Paltz and Margaretville. Massie said Health Quest had not yet determined all the specialties that might be offered at the former Macy’s store.
The Hull Property Group completed the purchase of the Hudson Valley Mall, which opened in 1981 and expanded several times, in early January for $8.1 million, around 12 percent of the property’s most recent assessment value. The mall was placed into receivership in June 2016, nearly a year after owner Liverpool, New York-based PCK Development Co. LLC, defaulted on nearly $50 million of debt.
Quigley said he favors the Health Quest plan, in part because it expands the property’s uses and will get more people to the site. “That is a gorgeous piece of real estate,” he said. “It has gorgeous views of the mountains. I think that putting a use as simple as retail up there is underutilizing the real estate.”