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Community hopeful on Atlas Pk’s future

As Macerich, the owner of Queens Center Mall, prepares to assume control of The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale at the end of the month, there is no shortage of opinions on what direction the new landlord should take with the troubled shopping center.

A spokesman for Macerich declined to comment. But Max Dall’Orso, a principal for Spokesman Cycles, located in the Shops, said he is confident his store has already gone through the worst: the 2009 foreclosure, the transfer of power to a court-appointed receiver, the sale to Macerich and a nasty winter for the outdoor shopping complex at 80-00 Cooper Ave.

“Overall, we are very hopeful,” he said. “I think we’ve weathered out any sort of storm that we’ve had.”

Dall’Orso briefly met with Macerich, a California-based real estate investment trust that specializes in regional shopping malls, and was impressed with its attitude.

“Our preliminary conversations have been very productive,” he said. “[Macerich] has wanted to hit the ground running, and we’re confident that it will keep the mall functioning.”

And Dall’Orso said that while minor changes might be implemented, he does not foresee the property being used for anything but retail.

“These guys have a retail background,” he said. “I can’t image a company with a retail background changing the direction of it being a mall.”

Dall’Orso does not expect the shops to compete with Macerich’s other property, Queens Center Mall, one of the most successful in the country.

“They would want it to complement Queens Center,” he said.

But Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5, said the mall could use some activities besides shopping and watching movies.

“In my opinion, if you had one or more recreational uses there, then that could be very good,” he said, citing the closure of a nearby bowling alley last year.

“Woodhaven Lanes closed, so a bowling alley might be an option,” Giordano said.

Giordano also said diversifying the types of stores to cater to a broader age group, particularly younger consumers, could be beneficial.

“I also think that you have a lot of young people going to the movies, but there is nowhere for them to shop,” he said. “I think that some stores for them could be successful.”

But the bottom line is Giordano said he wants to see the shops do well.

“Who wants to see a bunch of empty stores sitting there?” he asked. “The question is what will work.”

Eleanor Treadwell, a 72-year old Glendale resident, thinks she has the answer.

“I would like to see a Walmart there,” she said. “I’d take my shopping cart there every day.”

Treadwell said that a lack of grocery stores near her home is the reason why the retail giant would be a good fit for the Glendale community.

But the prospect of Walmart in New York has generated controversy across the five boroughs and has been the subject of two City Council hearings.

Regardless, Treadwell does not see the retailer as a threat.

“They’ve got everything there,” she said. “I know everybody on my block would shop there.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260-4566.

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