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New Atlas Park owners excite shoppers, biz

The owner of the Subway Restaurant located in the Shops at Atlas Park has yet to meet the new owners of the mall, but he has hopes for a brighter future for the complex.

“We would like to meet these people and see what kind of ideas that they have going on. If I had to guess, of course [they will bring the mall better business], these guys are experienced and they run one of the best malls in the country,” Sam Ahmed said. “But let’s see, I’d rather hear it from their mouths.”

Macerich Co., the owner of the Queens Center Mall and manager of Cross Country Shopping Center in Yonkers, are believed to have acquired the Glendale complex for roughly $54 million at a foreclosure auction on Friday, January 28.

Macerich spokesperson Anita Walker declined to comment when asked about it, citing a company policy against discussing newly-acquired property until the sale has closed. The timetable for that is the end of this month, though Walker said she was unsure exactly what date that will be.

Some stores have already been in contact with Macerich for formal introductions. Other stores, such as Simply Fondue, have dates to meet with Macerich in the upcoming days, according to Ahmed.

“I’m really curious to see what will happen,” said Ariel Batista, assistant manager of the Jos. A. Bank store in the mall. “I hope they do something retail-wise because the restaurants seem to be doing well already. Advertising is a problem and I want to see what they do about that as well.”

Atlas Park was unveiled in 2006 as an outdoor "lifestyle center," but its mix of restaurants and boutiques slumped through recent years. Residents of the blue-collar area complained the stores were too upscale. Its owners, the family of ex-MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger, defaulted on a $128 million loan to two French banks in 2009, initiating foreclosure.

More recently, the Mattone family had been owners of the property.

Shoppers hope that the new owners will transform the Shops at Atlas Park into something more like the Queens Center complex, in terms of stores and productivity. Macerich bought that mall in 1995 and it now is one of the most profitable malls per square foot in the United States, according to figures released by the owners earlier in the decade.

“Once they [Macerich] fully close on the purchase, we can finally move forward with developing Glendale’s own shopping center,” said City Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. “The community welcomes the new leadership with open arms and is eager to help Atlas become an engine for economic growth. I will be meeting with Macerich this week and other stakeholders including civic groups in the coming weeks and months to make sure this shopping center works with the community and the residents I represent.”

“We need a big store to anchor this place. At Queens Center they have Macy’s and JCPenny. Those stores bring in people because of how well known they are. We need something,” said Glendale resident Jim Keller, 53.

The overwhelming feeling circulating the outdoor center is optimism. Many trust Macerich’s experience with successful shopping malls.

“I’m very excited. As soon as they take over, they will bring in stores and we will all be in good shape. They have a good relationship with some corporate stores and merchants alike. Also a good supermarket, a sneaker store and a drugstore would all do well here,” Darlene Ramos, store manager of Chicos, said.

Ramos went on to explain that the reason behind her store’s success and ability to stay in business relies heavily on customer loyalty. She warned Macerich that if they did not bring in the “right” stores for the community, they will not experience success.

“If they bring ‘mom’ and ‘pop’ stores then the same thing will happen; they won’t survive,” she said.

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