LANSING, N.Y. — Everyone likes a juicy bit of gossip. Sometimes it’s true, and sometimes, it’s not. It’s been a persistent rumor the past several weeks that the Shops at Ithaca Mall is being bought by the Maguire Family of Dealerships.

As it turns out, that’s not happening.

At a glance, it would seem plausible. The former Penn-Can Mall in suburban Syracuse had been bought and turned into a massive auto mall in the 2000s.

Image Property of Namdar Realty.

Certainly, the mall could use the investment as well – plagued with high vacancy and diminishing long-term prospects, the tax assessment for the Shops at Ithaca Mall decreased this year from $31 million to $19.35 million. It’s a good thing that the Village of Lansing has seen several other developments recently open or in the pipeline to supplement the loss in property taxes. One of the projects being reviewed right now is the new Maguire Nissan planned for Uptown Road.

With the Maguires in expansion mode and the mall in need of some big tenants, it seemed like a good match – put those acres of parking and loop roads to use for a cluster of car dealerships. However, that’s not in Phil Maguire’s plans.

“The Maguire Family of Dealerships has not made an offer, nor are we planning to make an offer to acquire the Shoppes at Ithaca Mall,” stated company president Phil Maguire.

“We evaluated the opportunity as it was an active listing, but concluded that it was not ideal for several reasons. First, Namdar intends to sell off the mall in pieces. Maguire would want to acquire the property in its entirety. Second, core retail sections facing Route 13 are currently occupied with long-term leases. Maguire is open to future expansion opportunities in Ithaca and Lansing, and we recognize that we can be a valuable solution to revitalizing retail spaces sitting vacant as a result of the Amazon Effect,” he said.

It appears there was an ounce of truth to the pound of rumors. Maguire did check out the mall, but Namdar Realty has been trying to sell it off in pieces, which is part of their strategy to lock in existing tenants – retailers are less likely close up shop when they own the spaces they occupy. At last report, the only tenant that has expressed interest in buying out their space is Target, which likely isn’t interested in a large chain of car dealerships setting up shop next door. Maguire’s statement suggests that Dick’s, Ulta Beauty and/or Best Buy are also in there for the long haul as renters if not potential buyers, given that they face Route 13 and occupy recently renovated spaces.

Namdar Realty did not respond to comment regarding the Maguire project and long-term plans for the mall.

As for the Maguires’ plans, it’s as the Voice reported in January – after Nissan comes a renovation of the Chevrolet and Cadillac dealership on Cinema Drive, and scouting out sites for a new Hyundai dealership and a new Subaru dealership. As those plans come forth, the Voice will keep you posted. Just don’t expect them to be at the mall.

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at