Work has begun on an aquarium and family fun zone, complete with a bowling alley, at Rotterdam Square Mall.
Florida-based Jimerico Construction was issued a building permit July 9 to start the work, and crews could be seen this week inside the vacant stores where the renovations are planned.
Banners outside and inside the mall advertise the aquarium and fun zone with a promising message: “Coming soon.”
Turkish developer Via Properties purchased the struggling mall from Mike Kohan for $9.25 million in May and pledged to invest $10 million. Kohan, of Kohan Retail Investment Group, had purchased the mall for $8.5 million in January 2014.
The plans include a 24,000-square-foot aquarium with sharks and deep-sea fish from tropical locations, and a 28,000-square-foot family fun zone with a bowling alley, arcade games and sports bar.
The attractions are being built in five empty spaces in the mall’s desolate Sears wing, with the aquarium going in the space vacated by T.J. Maxx. The Schenectady Theater for Children, which had occupied a storefront next to Sears, has been moved to the former Macy’s wing.
The planned work is valued at $1.8 million, according to a building permit issued by the town. Cenk Hayirlioglu, who oversees Via Properties’ U.S. operations, ViaPort USA, could not be reached for comment.
He previously said the two attractions would bring the mall’s occupancy, now between 65 and 70 percent, to 90 percent.
In May, the company announced plans for an entertainment center with a bowling alley at its first U.S. mall, Via Port Florida. Since purchasing the mall near Orlando from Kohan in September, the company has changed the mall’s name from Lake Port Square and made extensive renovations.
NED CAMPBELL/GAZETTE REPORTER
Banners advertise a future aquarium and and family fun zone outside Rotterdam Square Mall on Thursday.