Forever 21 may be coming to Atlas Park


| ctumola@queenscourier.com |

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Forever 21 may be joining the lineup at the struggling Shops at Atlas Park.

The Shops at Atlas Park is still suffering a year-and-a-half after it was bought at a foreclosure auction. But a new tenant, Forever 21, could help the Glendale open-air shopping center turn a financial corner.

Though its owner, Macerich, could not “confirm details of any retailers at this time,” a Forever 21 spokesperson confirmed to the Daily News that a 15,000-square-foot store will open there in early 2013.

Forever 21 is a modestly priced chain that sells trendy clothes and accessories for women, men and kids, but is particularly popular among females in their teens and early 20s. It has several stores in Manhattan and Long Island, but only one store in the borough, at the nearby Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst, which Macerich also owns.

Unlike the booming Queens Center, Atlas Park has had difficulty attracting shoppers, who complain about its paid parking and store offerings.

“There’s nothing there to buy. You’re paying parking for no place to shop,” said Glendale Civic Association president Kathy Masi. She is happy about any store that can pay the rent, especially one that is geared towards the young people who frequent the mall on the weekend.

In addition to retail shops, the 377,924-square-foot shopping center has restaurants, offices and a movie theater, and hosts concerts.

“We do a lot better during nights and weekends because people come here for movies and the restaurants,” said Peggy Zhu, an employee at clothing and accessory store Momo.

One restaurant, California Pizza Kitchen, says that business for them has been fine.

But since Atlas Park opened in 2006, business hasn’t been fine. Three years after purchasing it, its original owners defaulted on a $128 million loan. In January 2011, Macerich bought the center for $54 million at a foreclosure auction.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company seems to recognize that Atlas Park is still struggling, and is considering renaming the shopping center and making other changes.

“Whenever we redevelop, there is a whole list of possibilities, and a name change is one of them,” Tim Steffan, senior vice president of property management at Macerich told The Queens Courier earlier this year. He also said that any mall needs an anchor or destination to attract customers—and local residents agree.

“The stores are too expensive here. They need more stores like the ones in Queens Center that are cheaper,” said Glendale mother Jackie Jenna, 51.

“There’s a bunch of shoe stores but not a lot of cheap places for young people to shop,” said 18-year-old Michelle Ricciardi of Middle Village. “I think Forever 21 will bring a lot of people to the mall.”

Additional reporting by Phil Hertling