Amazon store paying its rent, but landlord Pyramid sues anyway

Retailer closed location at upstate Crossgates Mall

Pyramid Management Group’s Stephen Congel and Crossgates Mall in Albany (Pyramid Management Group, Google Maps)
Pyramid Management Group’s Stephen Congel and Crossgates Mall in Albany (Pyramid Management Group, Google Maps)

Amazon was at a retail crossroads when it shut down its “4-star” stores. Now it’s being sued by the Crossgates Mall — despite still paying its rent.

An affiliate of Pyramid Management Group, which owns the Albany mall, is taking the retail giant to court, the Times Union reported. The lawsuit alleges that Amazon, which shut down its store in March, owes the mall $629,000.

The lawsuit is not about rent, which Amazon is paying under a 10-year lease that doesn’t expire until 2032. Instead, the case concerns “unearned portion of an aggregate allowance,” according to the Daily Gazette.

Amazon’s stint at the Crossgates Mall barely lasted a year. The company opened its 4-star store in February 2021, taking a modest 4,500 square feet at the 700,000-square-foot shopping center, the biggest in the region.

Amazon closed the store on March 19. Three days later, the mall sent Amazon a notice, claiming it had defaulted on the lease. Neither party commented to the Times Union.

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Amazon shut down its 4-star stores — so named because they only sell products rated four stars or better by customers — when it closed down most of its physical retail locations in March. The e-commerce giant shuttered all 68 of its bookstores, pop-ups and shops carrying toys and home goods in the U.S. and United Kingdom.

The Crossgates Mall has sued many of its tenants that stopped paying rent during the pandemic. Pyramid has been struggling with its debt as Covid accelerated a slump that had been plaguing many shopping malls across the country.

Last month, however, the fortunes of Pyramid’s business in Albany appeared to be turning. New York City-based real estate lender Argentic provided a 10-year loan on the nearby Crossgates Commons, also owned by Pyramid.

Pyramid also recently received a three-year loan extension at the Walden Galleria in Buffalo.

— Holden Walter-Warner