New owners bring big change to distressed Atlas Park mall

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Steve Mosco

The owners of the Shops at Atlas Park are looking to revitalize the struggling mall with an infusion of new stores — and possibly a new name.

Mall officials confirmed Forever 21, a fashion retailer aimed at the young and trendy, plans to open a 15,000-square-foot store at the Glendale shops in early 2013. The clothing chain is just one of the new stores the mall’s owner Macerich is currently engaging in negotiations.

“We cannot confirm details of any new retailers at this time, but we are pleased that a Forever 21 representative confirmed their interest in opening a store at our center,” said Liza Diaz, property manager with Macerich. “We are very happy that our community is supporting us by showing such an interest in Atlas Park.”

Residents in the Glendale community have been clamoring for an influx of new retailers at the mall, with many posting their suggestions on the Glendale Civic Association’s Facebook page.

Kathy Danile Masi, president of the civic group, said she has heard the names of clothing and jewelry retailers expressing interest in opening locations at the mall.

“Let’s hope that the new owners of Atlas can make these rumors reality and close at least one or two of the prospects,” she said.

Macerich, which owns, operates and develops malls across the country, purchased Atlas Park at a foreclosure auction last year. The company, which also owns the Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst, would not comment on any current negotiations with specific retailers.

The company also would not comment on a possible name change for the mall, but at least one elected official thinks it might be wise to depart from Atlas Park’s unfortunate reputation.

“Changing the name might be the right business move for Macerich because Atlas has been associated with a failing entity for so long,” said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), adding the mall’s new owners have spent a lot of time discussing what types of stores would fit the area.

“They understand the community,” he said. “Some people have said they should bring outlet stores to Atlas and how great it would be to have the borough’s first outlet store at this location. But Macerich said they would not do that to the community.”

Addabbo said Macerich has expressed concern with the amount of traffic such stores would bring to Glendale, a residential community. Addabbo said the lack of subway service means potential shoppers would either drive in or rely heavily on mass transit bus service.

“There are residential homes adjacent to the mall. Having outlet stores there which create traffic problems for locals,” he said. “Macerich has a great track record and they are primed to do good things at Atlas Park.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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