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Faith Hope Consolo
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In the News

Developer Bets on Queens Shopping 'Village'

A developer is betting that a higherend retail complex opening later this month in central Queens will stem the flow of local shoppers to Manhattan and Long Island.

Traditionally, Queens shoppers looking for higher-end retailers have headed to Nassau County, Long Island, or into Manhattan. The Hemmerdingers, who own Atco Properties & Management, are betting that the Shops at Atlas Park, set to open April 27, will bring the shopping experience that most Americans enjoy to the city's largest and most diverse borough.

The developers have leased most of the 300,000 square feet of retail space ahead of the opening. So far, tenants include Talbots, Coldwater Creek, California Pizza Kitchen, Bombay Company,New York Sports Club, Claire's, Stein Mart, Gymboree, Regal Cinemas, and others. It also will house about 50,000 square feet of office space.

Developer Damon Hemmerdinger said, "We are building the kind of project that is being built around the country into a market where it is not being built."

Mr. Hemmerdinger's father, Dale Hemmerdinger, added: "Queens has more families with incomes over $100,000 a year than any other place in the country. There just has never been any higher-end shopping in Queens."

Dale Hemmerdinger was careful not to use the "M" word."It's not a mall, it's really a village," he said.

Since 1922, the 12-acre site in Glendale, Queens, has been owned by three generations of the Hemmerdinger family, and until recently it housed an industrial park. Over the last 2 1/2 years, several of the industrial buildings were renovated to house retail stores. A series of whitewashed buildings will surround 2 to 3 acres of green space.

"We built our own waterfront," Dale Hemmerdinger said.

Another Queens developer, Lester Petracca of Triangle Equities, said he has considered building a higher-end shopping mall in Queens, but stayed away.

"People are set in their ways,"Mr.Petracca said. "But the jury is still out. It has the potential to do very well. The area has always had affluence,and they could tap the market."

The head of retail leasing and sales for Prudential Douglas Elliman, Faith Hope Consolo, said that the development is well-timed to take advantage of the borough's growth potential.

"Queens is ready for something other than lower- and medium-priced retail.Queens wants to mirror what's happened in Brooklyn," Ms. Consolo said. "This will make the shopping more local and desirable for people who don't want to drive for 40 minutes."

The head of retail for GVA Williams, Patrick Breslin, who grew up in the Glendale neighborhood, said he was initially skeptical that traffic would clog the entrances to the complex. But Mr. Breslin said that after some road and infrastructure changes, he is more optimistic that the demographics of the area, and the dense population, make it a prime target for retailers.

"It's a rock solid working-class neighborhood, and they are giving them some variety where they never had it before," he said."If you are a New Yorker, you are not used to this stuff. You have to live in suburbia to see it."

Mr. Breslin said that some of the retail tenants who have taken space in the complex should expect that their outlets will have some of the highest return of any outlets in the country.

"They are going to hit it out of the park," he said.

 

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