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Queens Chronicle

Mall plan raises civic concerns over traffic

Atlas shrugs: Shops welcome plan for new shopping center next door

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Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 10:30 am

A new shopping center proposed for Glendale has community leaders raising concerns about traffic and the economic viability of another mall that would be located adjacent to The Shops at Atlas Park.

Presented by Schuckman Realty, the plan would convert the Atlas Terminals site at 8200 Cooper Avenue into retail stores and a public storage facility of 26,100 square feet. Three anchor stores are proposed, one of them to be a grocery store, with additional space for restaurants, a bank and smaller retail shops, including a “junior box anchor opportunity” for 42,000 square feet. Although a Schuckman brochure does not mention a specific store yet, a diagram does cite a letter of intent to occupy at least one space.

The plan is split into two phases, totaling about 350,000 square feet. Phase one would be situated directly east of Atlas Park and phase two, across 83rd Street. The brochure cites phase one “delivery” in fall 2015 and spring 2016 for phase two. The mall would be called the Glendale Shopping Center.

Some of the shopping, as well as at least one area for deliveries, would be underground.

As opposed to Atlas Park, which charges for parking, the center would not, with the document noting there would be “ample parking (504 spots) with great convenience and accessibility.”

When Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, heard of the plan, she questioned whether there would be enough interest in businesses leasing stores in the proposed center since Atlas Park does not have all its stores leased.

“I can’t imagine what [the developers] would have to offer that would make more people want to lease to them,” Masi said in a phone interview.

Originally owned by the Hemmerdinger family, Atlas Park was sold to Macerich in 2011 after its owners had to default on their loans. Macerich, which owns Queens Center mall, one of the most profitable shopping centers in the nation, renovated Atlas Park and added Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe stores this year, but vacancies still exist.

When asked about any possible competition that the new center would bring, Dawn Simon, the senior marketing manager for Atlas Park, said, “We believe the surrounding market is strong and there is plenty of room in the marketplace for additional retail projects.”

But Masi isn’t the only area civic leader to question the wisdom of adding stores.

“It’s a ghost town,” Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said of Atlas Park. Holden said that he is worried about overdevelopment in the highly residential area.

He is also concerned over the increased traffic that would likely result from the shopping center. Citing the layout of Glendale, Holden said that its many cemeteries, railroad lines and highways already lead to frequent congestion on Woodhaven Boulevard and Cooper Avenue since there is a lack of alternative routes in the area.

Moreover, Holden and Masi both mentioned that two public storage facilities already exist in the area, and they do not see the immediate need for another one.

The 11.3 acres of land at Atlas Terminals is zoned for a combination of manufacturing, retail, storage and office space.

According to Vince Arcuri, chairman of Community Board 5, if developers plan to have a retail space of more than 10,000 feet, they will need to request a variance, meaning that the community will get to voice its opinion on what should become of the property. As of now, the topic is not scheduled for discussion at CB 5.

While Arcuri has his reservations about the project, he said that if done right, there is hope for increased business.

“We do need jobs. We need to put people to work so they can afford to live in housing instead of shelters,” he said in a phone interview.

The city is moving toward approving a homeless shelter nearby at 78-16 Cooper Ave.

In 2011, the industrial park where the new mall would go was put up for sale by the Hemmerdinger family, but as of December 2013, it is still owned by their ATCO Properties and Management.

Schuckman Realty, which posted its proposal on its website, has been in the business for 30 years. Its client list includes multiple shopping centers such as Atlantic Plaza in Ozone Park.

Both Schuckman Realty and ATCO’s Damon Hemmerdinger declined to comment on the plan.

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