What's Going to Happen to the Vacant Borders Bookstores?

Tom Schreck answers questions about Malcolm X’s grandson, bankruptcy, and Rye Playland

Q: This winter season, I’m looking to take up some ice skating lessons at Playland Ice Casino in Rye. I know Superstorm Sandy destroyed the Ice Casino. Have repairs begun? Will it be opening for the 2013-2014 season? —Marie Aguado, Yonkers

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A: Sandy wreaked $16 million of damage on Rye Playland. The amusement park—including the seven main historic rides—only required some cleanup.

The news is not good for skaters, though. The Ice Casino took Sandy’s brunt and suffered severe damage ($14 million of damage was done to the Ice Casino and boardwalk alone). It needs comprehensive construction, and it will not be ready until the middle of 2014 at the earliest.

It was a miracle that Playland’s amusement park, beach, pool, and wildlife sanctuary opened this year. 


Q: I read that, earlier this year, Malcolm’s X’s grandson was murdered in a bar in Mexico. Was he the same grandson that set the fire that led to the death of Malcolm’s widow, Betty Shabazz? Did Malcolm and Betty ever reside in Westchester County? —Lawrence Dobson, Mount Vernon

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A: Malcolm Shabazz was beaten to death in May of this year  by two waiters in a Mexican bar, allegedly over a dispute about what Shabazz thought was an excessive bar tab. He was 28, and there is no indication that his attackers knew who he was or anything about his family.

In June, 1997, Shabazz, then 12, was living with his grandmother, Betty Shabazz, the widow of Malcolm X, in Yonkers when he set fire to her apartment at 25 Parkview Avenue. Mrs. Shabazz was burned over 80 percent of her body and later died from her injuries. Malcolm Shabazz later served time in juvenile detention after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter and second-degree arson.

Malcolm X and Betty did not live together in Westchester. They lived in Queens until their house was firebombed and destroyed. After Malcolm X was assassinated, Sidney Poitier, Ossie Davis, and Ruby Dee bought Betty Shabazz a home from future Congresswoman Bella Abzug and her husband, Martin, at 234 E 5th St in Mount Vernon. Though she was living in the apartment in Yonkers, she still owned the house in Mount Vernon at the time of her death.


Q: Are there plans for the vacant Borders bookstores in Mount Kisco and White Plains? —Andrew Moore, White Plains

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A: Yes! The Westchester Economic Development Agency has decided it would make the most sense to turn these structures in to huge Kindle charging stations. That way, book lovers can still head out to a retail store before they click “download” and get their favorite book off of the Westchester cloud. They still get to leave the house, go book shopping, and support the local economy.


The real answer for those who still love that outdated, archaic product that depletes our unsustainable forests is less funny. According to Jan Johannessen of the Mount Kisco Planning Board, there has been no application submitted for any repurposing of the structure, and a quick look on the commercial real estate sites show that the former Borders building is still on the market.

In White Plains, the Borders was part of the Westchester Pavilion mall. A plan has been submitted by Urstadt Biddle Properties Inc. to tear part of the structure down, including the old Borders space, and build apartments, restaurants, a health spa, and a hotel. Urstadt’s president, Willing Biddle, told me they are early in the process, are waiting for the zone-change approval, and haven’t identified any tenants yet.

Have a question for “Ask Westchester”? Email edit@westchestermagazine.com. Subject line: ASK WESTCHESTER.

» For More from the November issue, click here. 

courtesy of Westchester County Parks Department

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