Today’s news:

Atlas Park foreclosure auction set for October

A lawyer for a Manhattan firm announced that the Shops at Atlas Park will be sold at a foreclosure auction sometime in early October. But despite the problems renting out the stores in the Glendale shopping center, Paul Millus of Snitow, Kanfer, Holtzer & Millus LLP said he is confident the property can have a successful rebirth.

“There is an expressed interest from various companies in the premises,” Millus said.

Millus is the court-appointed receiver for Atlas Park, which is a 21-acre mall at 80-00 Cooper Ave. in Glendale, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors in January 2009. He was appointed receiver in March 2009. As the receiver, he is overseeing the mall’s operations.

“I essentially sit in as the CEO,” he said.

This means that even though Atlas Park is in foreclosure, the stores will remain open during the proceedings. More than half the retail spots in the park are open, Millus said.

Atlas Park’s website listed more than 50 stores as open or opening.

Millus said Atlas Park has debt of about $125 million. He could not estimate what price the property would bring at auction and would not say which potential bidders were interested, but he contended the location made it an ideal purchase.

“What we have here is a new beginning for Atlas Park that will take place in short order,” he said.

Atlas Park has had trouble catching on with the Queens community. Built by developer Damon Hemmerdinger on an industrial park owned by his family, Atlas Park opened in 2006 and was originally planned as an upscale retail center. However, the higher-end stores did not flourish and many retailers, such as Amish Market, furniture store Bombay Company and card retailer Blue Tulip, closed. Millus said back in July 2009 he hoped to change the nature of the mall.

Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5, said there have been difficulties renting out portions of the shopping center in the past.

“They have lost some tenants over the past few years,” he said.

Giordano said one of the most recent to close was the department store Stein Mart.

While he could not say for sure why the mall had had trouble holding onto tenants, he theorized it was that Atlas Park is competing with other centers in the surrounding area, such as the Queens Center Mall and the stores along Junction Boulevard.

“So people do have a lot of different shopping opportunities around here,” Giordano said.

Nevertheless, Giordano said he believed Atlas Park still had great potential to draw more customers and he thought some of the remaining stores were still doing fairly well.

“The businesses that seem to be the most successful are the movie theaters and the restaurants,” he said.

He cited the Regal Cinemas on site and the many restaurants such as Chili’s, Shiro of Japan, California Pizza Kitchen, Manor Oktoberfest and Johnny Rockets.

“I think that people generally speaking are looking for entertainment locally and that often coincides with going out to eat,” Giordano said.

Giordano also said he believed the stores that would best flourish there are those that appeal to teenagers or young adults, who often want to go to the movie theater. He suggested clothing stores for young people and children’s clothing stores would thrive.

“I just hope that they succeed,” Giordano said. “It is a beautiful place, in my opinion, and if they get the type of businesses that can draw more shoppers, more customers, I’m hoping that they can do well.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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