Five Corners Reid Hill Shopping Plaza

 


An interior view of a large, deserted building with signs of significant decay. Sunlight filters through a partially collapsed ceiling onto moss-covered floors, where patches of green plants have taken root amid the debris. Graffiti adorns the brick walls, and the skeletal remains of electrical wiring hang overhead, evoking a sense of long-term abandonment and nature reclaiming a man-made structure.


My memory vividly holds onto a recent exploration, one that still feels fresh and exhilarating. I stumbled upon this site quite unexpectedly while en route to another location. The building, with its street-level windows gaping open, seemed to beckon me, an invitation too enticing to ignore. Despite a security vehicle parked out front, a testament to its off-limits allure, my instinct whispered that there was another way in, a path less obvious than the front door.







Navigating to the rear of the shopping plaza, I found my entry point - a human-sized hole punched through the wall, as if tailor-made for an explorer like me. I couldn't resist. Slipping through, I crouched into a world forgotten by time, an ancillary room that led to a larger, open space.





The sight that unfolded was a study of neglect and decay. Grey plastic tiles, water-damaged and forgotten, were blanketed in a tapestry of green and brown moss and mold. It struck me then, the familiarity of these tiles - a staple in grocery supermarkets, where grey often dominates over white. This space, now hollow and echoing, had once been alive with the hustle of retail activity.


The walls were adorned with graffiti, the work of mischievous hands, yet nothing stood out as particularly remarkable. Setting up my camera, I began to document the scene. The composition was straightforward yet compelling - a vast, empty space punctuated by the outside world visible through the open window frames, a stark contrast to the desolation within.


According to my research, this area was likely part of a retail shopping space, one of three similar units in this forsaken strip mall. Standing there, in the quiet, I was struck by the transitory nature of such places. Once bustling with life, now just a silent, empty shell, its story captured through the lens of my camera.


A dilapidated interior of what seems to be a commercial building, with crumbling walls and a ceiling that is falling apart. Insulation and wires dangle from above, and debris covers the floor. Discarded items and yellow insulation foam are strewn about, adding to the sense of abandonment and decay. The lighting casts a somber tone over the scene, highlighting the textures and chaos from years of neglect.



Exiting the way I had entered, my curiosity led me westward across the skeleton of the once-thriving shopping plaza. It was here that I stumbled upon the ghost of a former Chinese restaurant. The space, now just a hollow echo of its past, was littered with the detritus of a once bustling eatery. Clinging to the wall, a weathered menu still proclaimed the dishes once served, a poignant reminder of the life that had flowed through this space.


I methodically documented the narrow, rectangular confines of what used to be a vibrant corner of culinary delight. The cramped quarters spoke volumes of the hustle and energy that must have once filled the air, now replaced by a profound silence.


Continuing my exploration, I was met with a dead end where I had expected to find another entrance. The cinder block space adjacent to the remnants of the Chinese restaurant was sealed off, and inaccessible. The presence of the security vehicle at the front, guarding what was left of this deserted plaza, dissuaded me from probing further. There seemed little point in risking confrontation for what was likely just another empty, dark space.


As it turned out, my instincts were right. I later learned that the inaccessible area was much like the first space I had explored – a large, vacant expanse, echoing the same story of abandonment and decay. 


Overgrown foliage partially obscures a neglected gray concrete building, with three large, rusted industrial fans visible in its window frames. Graffiti is scrawled on the wall, and a 'No Trespassing' sign hangs askew by the dark entrance, suggesting abandonment. The encroaching greenery and the stillness of the fans convey a stark contrast between industrial decay and natural growth.



The Five Corners site, a name that harkens back to its unique geographic position at the convergence of Forest Avenue, 4th Avenue, Jay, Kellogg, and Church streets, now stands as a vacant, echoing testament to a bygone era. Nestled just north of a bustling local gas station in Amsterdam, this plaza, sprawled across a three-acre lot with a building spanning over 17,000 square feet, was once a vibrant hub of commerce and community life.


This site, now quiet and deserted, was once an integral part of the city's fabric, boasting a variety of retailers and services. Its prominent location, abutting the Chuctanunda Creek and prominently visible along one of Amsterdam’s main arteries, Forest Avenue, made it a local landmark.


The city's records paint a picture of a once-thriving shopping destination. For over a decade, however, the plaza has been abandoned, its vitality and buzz replaced by silence and stillness. Its history is layered and complex, built atop the Kellogg Pond, which served as an open pit landfill from the 1930s to 1960. A myriad of materials, including lumber ash, brick, household waste, and traces of petroleum, have been uncovered here, revealing a site steeped in industrial and commercial activity.

The land itself has a rich industrial past. It was once the site of Kellogg and Miller, a linseed oil producer, and possibly played host to a bulk fuel storage company, an auto service center, and a landfill. Over the years, its tenants have included a diverse array of businesses – from Save-Way and A&P to a P+C grocery store. Carl’s drug store, Captain Video, a liquor store, and several other small businesses that have faded into history also once called this place home.


The late 2000s saw the final chapter of the plaza's active life, as one by one, the stores shuttered their doors, leaving behind a space that now stands as a relic of its former self.


The demolition of the Five Corners site marked a significant turning point in its storied history. This act, the initial step in a larger plan to remediate the contaminants from this brownfield site, paves the way for future possibilities and revitalization. On December 14, 2023, contractors, commissioned by the city for a sum of up to $304,500 and funded by a grant, commenced this transformative operation. It was a sight to behold as the westernmost corner of the plaza, a landmark of bygone days, was reduced to rubble in a mere 20 minutes.


This demolition isn't just about dismantling what once was; it's a meticulous renewal process. The entire structure, along with the stone slab it rests upon, is slated to be methodically knocked down. Every fragment, every piece of debris, will be carefully collected and transported away for appropriate disposal, ensuring that the legacy of the site's industrial past is addressed with the respect and caution it demands.


The next phase of this ambitious project involves covering the site with six inches of sand, a blank canvas awaiting a new chapter. The city of Amsterdam is not just clearing away the old; it's setting the stage for new growth, and new development. The site will be offered up to developers, presenting an opportunity to reshape this once-vibrant corner of the city. It's a call to action, an invitation to build anew while acknowledging and addressing the environmental challenges posed by the site's history.


This is a story of transformation and hope. The city's proactive approach, supporting decontamination efforts in partnership with future developers, reflects a commitment to not only revitalizing the land but also revitalizing the community's connection to this significant site. The demolition of the Five Corners plaza isn't an end but the beginning of a promising new era for Amsterdam. 



Sources


1. Rizzo, Sara. "Amsterdam begins demolition of former shopping plaza". December 15, 2023. News10

2. Onyon, Ashley. "Milestone' demolition of former Five Corners strip mall underway in Amsterdam". December 15, 2023. Daily Gazette

3. Onyon, Ashley. "Amsterdam seeking $2M grant to demolish 5 Corners strip mall" September 11, 2022. Daily Gazette


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