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Owner: Redevelopment of Source Mall as Lesso Home store delayed to 2019 

Pets4Luv, a nonprofit pet rescue and animal shelter now at the Source, says Lesso's initial promise of a lease has been revoked and the shelter will have to find a new home by Jan. 31.

A banner unveiled at a press conference Oct.

A banner unveiled at a press conference Oct. 19, 2017, said Lesso Home would open in summer 2018. Photo Credit: Aisha Al-Muslim

Property owners say redevelopment of the former Source Mall in Westbury has been delayed until 2019, and at least one tenant says an initial promise of a lease has been revoked. 

Lesso Mall Development Long Island Inc., which purchased the mall for $92 million in 2017, originally planned to open its home furnishings store this past summer. 

"Lesso Home New York Market will open in 2019," said Katelyn Yannie of Manhattan-based 5WPR, a public relations firm working with Lesso Home. Yannie declined to comment on the reason for the delay.

Lesso Mall Development is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based China Lesso Group Holdings Ltd. The Chinese firm also purchased the Fortunoff building on the property.

One current tenant, Pets4Luv, a nonprofit pet rescue and animal shelter, will not be part of the revamped property, its founder said. 

“They promised that they were keeping us,” said Dave Bernacci, but he was recently given until Jan. 31 to move out. 

Bernacci said he sat down with Lesso Group staff to discuss moving into a temporary space while the mall is under construction but was told in mid-September that Lesso ultimately would not renew the shelter's lease.

"It is unsafe for the shelter to remain on the premises due to heavy construction that puts both people and animals at risk," Yannie said in a statement, but did not comment on why the shelter will not be offered a lease.

This is the second time property renovations have uprooted Pets4Luv. The shelter was previously at the Sunrise Mall in Massapequa before being ousted for a sports bar. It has been in Westbury for the past five years.

Robin Weiss, a shelter volunteer, said Pets4Luv houses many hard-to-adopt animals. There are about 80 animals currently at the shelter.

“It’s going to be really hard to find places for them,” Weiss said. “We have a lot of animals that no one wants to take in.” 

Bernacci, who founded the shelter in 2008, started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help relocate the animals. He said his ultimate goal is to buy property for a permanent shelter.

Other tenants said they will remain at the mall after its redevelopment.

Barbara Hass, a Fortunoff sales associate, said the store is expected to get a new entrance but construction is delayed.

The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s and Dave and Buster’s are staying put, managers say.

Nicole Basile, a manager at Cheesecake Factory, said the restaurant was notified of its status by email. 

“People come here for us,” she said. “We’ve been here for 21 years.”

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