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Queens Chronicle

Atlas Park redesign to be unveiled soon

Shopping center set to open new plaza and clothing stores in July

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Posted: Thursday, June 6, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:40 am, Thu Jun 13, 2013.

The Shops at Atlas Park, the indoor-outdoor mall that opened six years ago in Glendale, is being revamped — and this time, the owners say they are making it all about the community.

“We’re doing wonderful things, and I’m sure all of the community will be very happy,” said Liza Diaz, the property manager for the shopping center. “We have such belief that this property is going to do so well; it’s a hidden gem.”

The Shops hosted a private tour last Thursday to show how the 10,000-square-foot construction project is coming along.

Elected officials, including Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside), and representatives of Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), caught a glimpse of the newly designed Center Green plaza.

“This will be good for business and good for the neighborhood,” Meng said. “It really is a win-win.”

“Many of my siblings and I utilize this mall and know there is great potential here,” Crowley said. “I look forward to the changes to come, and I want the community to play a huge part in the future of Atlas Park.”

The shopping center, located on Cooper Avenue and 80th Street in Glendale, was purchased by Macerich, owner of the Queens Center mall, for $54 million at a foreclosure auction in 2011, after struggling for several years.

“There has been a big misconception when it comes to the operations of Atlas Park,” Diaz said. “For a few years, we were in a point of receivership so nothing could be done, but now with Macerich, we really can begin working on redesigning Atlas Park, and I think the community will love the new Center Green.”

In the past, there was criticism over the lack of store options, but with Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe — clothing store heavy-hitters for teenagers and 20-somethings — moving in, representatives at Macerich are expecting the community to find shopping at Atlas Park an enjoyable experience.

“I have been with Atlas Park since it was first built,” said Nina Maurella, the leasing manager. “We are working to bring in more retailers. The community deserves such a place, and Macerich is working hard to make that happen. For fall we’re working on bringing local retailers; it would be the local private sector that will invite the community to come and enjoy. ”

In addition to the new stores, Macerich began a massive project to redesign the Center Green and add 100 storefront parking spots. Trees and greenery surrounded the old plaza with a concrete ellipse-shaped center for shoppers to socialize in. Now special events will be held on a grassy centerpiece with glass kiosks, a removable stage and seating for patrons.

Dozens of trees were torn down in March to make room for the construction, a decision Diaz said was necessary to improve the atmosphere.

“A lot of the trees that were here were not thriving,” she said. “There was not enough depth for the roots to grow and they became sick, so it wasn’t feasible to keep them for the new plaza. We did save the four magnolia trees, which were healthy, and those are going to stay. The whole landscape plan is more conducive to a retail center.”

Macerich representatives said construction is scheduled for completion on July 1 though Senior Manager of Tenant Coordination Brian Lindsey said the work could be finished even earlier.

“All of the curbs are set at this time,” he said. “Once they are finished with electrical grading, things will start moving very quickly here. By the end of next week, you’ll be able to see the Center Green basically in formation. It’s going to be a great addition, with a nice open area for people to congregate and special events.”

In the meantime, Macerich, which also owns Kings Plaza and the nearby Queens Center mall, will begin community outreach in the coming weeks, but Diaz would not allude to what the plans include.

While Macerich representatives wouldn’t share the number of vacant spaces the shopping center has, they are confident that shoppers will be excited by some of the potential tenants moving in.

Asked by attendees about a report that TJ Maxx, Modell’s and Sephora cosmetics may be leasing space soon, they wouldn’t confirm or deny the rumors.

The Center Green will be unveiled at a grand opening ceremony in early July, and a summer concert series is in the works. An events calendar will be available online when the plaza is officially opened.

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