Lesso executive Michael Mai unveils new signage at what was The Source mall in Westbury. Photo by: Timothy Bolger/Long Island Press.

Lesso Home, a Chinese home furnishings, décor and design company, announced Thursday a planned $25-million renovation turning Fortunoff’s mostly vacant The Source mall in Westbury into Lesso’s first New York location.

Dozens applauded when workers on the roof unfurled a massive banner displaying the mall’s new owner’s name above what will be the front entrance near the corner of Old Country Road and Merchant’s Concourse when the retail and commercial complex reopens next summer.

“Where creativity takes flight,” is written in clouds beside a silhouette of a single-engine airplane, a nod to the designing that will be going on and the site being the location of where Charles Lindbergh departed on his historic 1927 trans-Atlantic flight.

“The driving force behind every new advancement is a pioneering human spirit,” Lesso executive Michael Mai said, likening Lindbergh’s flight to his company building “a sophisticated environment that allows [shoppers and home designers] to check out the latest trends.”

The company invested $92 million to purchase the mall, home to a handful of remaining tenants, including Dave & Busters, Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s and Fortunoff’s jewelry and backyard stores, which mall representatives said will remain open during the renovations. The Pets4Luv Foundation, a nonprofit animal rescue, will remain, but be moved to a new location in the mall, a spokesman said.

Touting the jobs, shoppers and revenue that the project will bring to the area, Mai also said the complex “will attract industry buyers from Maine to Miami, as they seek the latest international designs without the need to travel around the world.”

Lesso Home, a Hong Kong-based company with another location in Los Angeles, will include showrooms for international manufacturers of home furnishings, décor and designers, walkable markets, children’s entertainment, conference center and the company’s offices. Mai compared it to home design version of Eataly, the popular gourmet food market in Manhattan.

Long Island Association President Kevin Law quoted a Chinese proverb about wealth.

“If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain,” he said. “If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.”

Esther Fortunoff, whose family built the mall, was equally optimistic.

“To see this retail complex reinvented into an economic engine that benefits the region is exactly what I think my dad, Alan Fortunoff, would have wanted,” she said. “He understood as few did that change comes to every business sector and the ability to manage that change is the key to success.” 

An artist’s rendering of the exterior of Lesso Home in Westbury.
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Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.