Billed as the largest LEED Gold-certified retail commercial building in the world, Destiny USA is more than an environmental leader. It is a shopping and entertainment mecca.
The 2.4 million-sq.-ft. tourist destination in Syracuse, N.Y., is an unexpected blend of luxury outlet tenants with restaurants and big entertainment names in a high-impact setting that includes a sweeping, three-story atrium, a replica of an upside-down city destroyed, and a suspended-rope adventure for the kids.
But it hasn't always had this kind of magnetism. Prior to the construction of the circa 1990 property — originally coined Carousel Center — the central New York State site was an unsightly scrap yard, landfill and oil tank farm spanning a multi-block area called Oil City. Locally based Pyramid Management Group founder and chairman Robert Congel had a far different vision for the area, spearheading a mammoth, three-year environmental cleanup and redevelopment effort that culminated in the October 1990 opening of the 1 million-sq.-ft. Carousel Center.
Twenty years ago, that was a hot shopping mall. Charter anchors included J.C. Penney and now-extinct banners such as Hills, Lechmere and the last Bonwit Teller ever built. Lord & Taylor arrived in 1994. Not resting on its laurels, Pyramid planned a bigger, better, hotter iteration it internally labeled Destiny USA, but the plans remained tucked away until 2007, when the first phase got under way.
Over the next few years, Destiny USA took shape, as big tenant names committed and expansion square footage added a full level of entertainment, sit-down dining and an indoor outlet component. In 2011, retail openings included Lenox, Michael Kors, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, BCBG MaxAzria, Dick's Sporting Goods, Cantina Laredo and The Melting Pot. The entire facility celebrated its official rebranding to Destiny USA in August 2012, and this year will see the addition of T.J. Maxx, Fossil Outlet, Johnston & Murphy, and Regal's IMAX and RPX screens.
Developer Pyramid, however, is as proud of its environmental undertakings as the retail and entertainment offerings.
"It was a proud moment to achieve LEED Gold certification and become the largest LEED Gold-certified commercial building in the world," said David Aitken, Destiny USA spokesman. "The team at Destiny USA dedicated years to developing an environmentally friendly facility to coincide with the beliefs of the company and its founder and chairman Robert Congel."
In fact, Pyramid had announced in late 2011 that it would seek a LEED Gold certification for the expansion portion of the project, a move that would involve a host of cutting-edge sustainable features, including a solar reflective roof, renewable flooring, a comprehensive rainwater harvesting system — and all 100 new tenants within the expansion to obtain LEED certification.
"The green aspects of the facility paired with the dynamic offering of shopping, dining, entertainment and outlets have helped draw more than 23 million visits in 2012, with visitors from across the country, Canada, China and Europe," said Aitken. "It's been a great draw for the community, and we will continue to work hard to drive unique tenants and events to the region."
Location: Syracuse, N.Y.
Developer: Pyramid Management Group
Size: 2.4 million sq. ft.
Components: 200-plus dining, entertainment, shopping and outlet venues
Major tenants: Sephora, Coach, Michael Kors, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, True Religion Brand Jeans, Brooks Brothers Factory Store, WonderWorks, Pole Position Raceway, Regal IMAX and RPX
Status: Opened in 1990 as Carousel Center, and rebranded to Destiny USA in August 2012