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The owner and developer of the Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale faces skepticism tempered with cautious optimism from the surrounding communities after announcing revitalization plans last week.
Frequent and infrequent customers as well as residents living near the troubled mall at 80-00 Cooper Ave. maintained that while they want mall-owner Macerich’s plan to succeed, they also hoped to have more of a say in the redevelopment process.
“We are all concerned about it and wish that the mall owners would ask for more community input about its future,” said Lee Rottenberg, a Middle Village resident and member of Community Board 5. “Everybody would like to see it succeed and there are a lot of opinions as to which stores should be included in the plans.”
After purchasing the mall in a foreclosure auction in 2011, Macerich revealed plans last week for a new crop of trendy stores, as well as updates to the property’s Center Green open space. The initial announcement named new additions Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe, both women’s clothing retailers, while construction has already started on the mall’s open center space.
For certain residents, construction got off on the wrong foot immediately when workers chopped down numerous trees on the mall property. Michael Perlman, chairman of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council and a tree enthusiast, said Macerich could have done more to avoid arboricide.
“The trees could have been incorporated into the mall’s plans or could have been transplanted, but they chose the easy way out,” Perlman said. “It is immoral to kill a tree. We lost too many due to nature, but alternate losses can be prevented.”
But with the trees gone and his eyes toward what would make a successful mall, Perlman suggested Macerich introduce shops that cannot be found anywhere else in Queens.
“While the proposed retail concepts are interesting and perhaps beneficial to Atlas Park’s future, my suggestion is to introduce some outstanding novelty shops which cannot be found throughout Queens,” he said. “Seasonal concerts and festivals should be scheduled on a routine basis outdoors. Atlas Park needs more gimmicks with an abundance of creativity.”
Neighborhood advocates also said Macerich needs to do more to reach the public than the previous owner. Rottenberg said in years past, the mall had carnivals and other events, but it was hard to find information about such events until after the fact.
“I only found out about the events when I saw pictures in the local paper well after they were over,” he said. “I would love to see more events, like concerts and car shows. I really believe the mall could be a great thing for the neighborhood if it was run properly.”
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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