By Bianca Fortis
The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale has taken a first step toward revitalization. The mall’s new Center Green, a 10,000-square-foot open space, officially opened Tuesday in time for the first community event there this weekend.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by elected officials and community members, marked the opening of the space, but it also served as a symbol of the mall’s future.
“This has always been the center of our town and people have always come here all times of the year to partake in what we have,” state Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) told the crowd. “Now with the expansion and now with the renovation, instead of just being the center of town, it will be the center of our attention. We’ll come here on a weekly basis to celebrate all the things happening here.”
The Center Green was a feature of the redesign Macerich, the company that owns the mall, had unveiled a few months ago.
This component of the plan was completed within the last month and on Tuesday, workers were still putting the finishing touches on the landscape.
Council member Elizabeth Crowley, (D-Middle Village) expressed hope that the mall would become an economic engine for the community.
“We’re here to celebrate in a lot of ways the rebirth of Atlas Park,” she said. “Unfortunately, when the park opened under the old management, it opened during the downturn of the economy. Here we are a few years later and the city is in much better shape. Families are feeling less of the economic pain they did years ago.”
Crowley also presented Macerich with a City Council citation thanking the company for its help during Hurricane Sandy when it opened its old Borders store to collect relief supplies.
Macerich had purchased the property in 2011 in a foreclosure auction with promises of rescuing the ailing shopping center. The company operates and develops malls around the country, including the Queens Center Mall, which is the most profitable mall in the United States.
Community Board 5 Manager Gary Giordano, who attended the ceremony, noted some of the new stores at the mall, including women’s clothing retailers Charlotte Russe and Forever 21.
“That’s a start,” he said. “But I think there’s significant other space that still needs to be leased out.”
He pointed out that some of the largest storefronts, including those that previously housed Border’s and Steinmart, are still empty.
Giordano said Macerich should ask for input from the community about what retailers they would prefer, but the company hasn’t done so. However, he was optimistic, albeit cautiously so.
“They have a tremendous amount of experience running malls and shopping centers,” he said, “so I would hope that they would be successful in the instance of the Shops at Atlas Park. So I’m reasonably optimistic.”
Events at the Center Green begin this weekend with a Grand Reopening ceremony, which features face painters, carnival games and a community barbecue. Later in the summer there will be concerts and movie showings, among other events.
Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.