Today’s news:

Mattone Group to assume management of Atlas Park

The new company managing the Shops at Atlas Park will be the College Point−based Mattone Group, sources close to the arrangement said Tuesday, which brought a positive response from elected officials and community leaders.

“I look forward to working with the Mattone Group over the coming weeks to improve the Shops at Atlas Park,” City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D−Middle Village) said. “I trust that they will attract and retain quality businesses that will help serve as a positive economic engine for our community’s small businesses and local residents.”

Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, that was often at odds with the Hemmerdingers over the high−end mall, also hailed the decision.

“I am pleased that they are a Queens−based operation and hopefully have an understanding of what it takes to do successful retail business in our area,” she said. “I look forward to working with them.”

The commercial and residential real estate giant takes over from the Hemmerdinger family, who have owned the property since the 1920s and built the struggling mall in 2006. On Jan. 21, Damon Hemmerdinger announced his company, ATCO Property Management, would no longer be involved in managing or leasing sites on the property effective Feb. 19.

Hemmerdinger did not return a phone call seeking comment by press time Tuesday.

Mattone Group Executive Michael Mattone was not available for comment.

In the January letter, Hemmerdinger said his lenders, the French banks Calyon and Societe Generale, would select the new property managers. A Societe Generale spokesman declined to comment Tuesday.

According to its Web site, the Mattone Group owns and leases more than 1.5 million square feet of prime commercial property, including the Pathmark Plaza in Springfield Gardens, Jamaica Center Site One in Jamaica, the private−home development called Waterside Estates at Cresthaven in Whitestone and the Embassy Tower apartment in Manhattan. It also operates a mall in Milford, Conn.

The company was also in talks with utilities giant KeySpan in 2003 to develop the old Elmhurst gas tank site before community uproar led to the city acquiring the property for a park.

Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said he was not aware of any other properties that the Mattone Group operates in his district. He said he hoped the Mattones would come up with a new strategy for the property.

“I think it’s a beautiful shopping mall, but they need to attract some other stores in there,” he said. “I think that Border’s is the main anchor now, and I may be wrong, but I think that too much of the profitability of the stores there is the restaurants and the theater.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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