Tag Archives: queens center

$24M asking price for Elmhurst lot near Queens Center

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

An Elmhurst lot, located across the street from the Queens Place mall, has been put up for sale for $24 million, according to real estate company Massey Knakal.

The 47,365-square-foot lot, located at 88-18 Justice Ave., is one block off of Queens Boulevard and adjacent to the Georgia Diner.

According to the listing provided by Massey Knakal, there is a Restrictive Declaration on the property allowing it to be developed “per existing approved plans,” though these could not be confirmed. The lot can also be used for residential and/or community facility development, but would require termination of the Restrictive Declaration. The property has 227,352-square-feet of development rights.

The lot is located close to Queens Center mall and a block from the M and R train lines at Grand Avenue. It is also near all the major highways.



Man busted for fires at Queens malls ordered to undergo psych evaluation

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

A Jamaica man, who has been charged for setting a series of fires at multiple Queens shopping centers, has been held without bail and ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday.

“The defendant is charged with setting fires that were responsible for causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to many businesses, as well as endangering the lives of shoppers, store employees and responding firefighters,” Brown said. “These incidents should not be viewed as a prank. Arson is a serious crime that will be dealt with accordingly.”

Dereck Sumair, 23, was arraigned Wednesday on various charges of arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief in connection to the mall fires, according to the district attorney. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

According to police, Sumair was apprehended after allegedly setting a fire at a Burlington Coat Factory at the Rego Center mall, just before 4 p.m. Monday.

Earlier that afternoon, merchandise was set on fire at an Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond and Sears at the same 96-05 Queens Blvd. shopping center, the NYPD said.

On Monday, another blaze occurred at Macy’s at the nearby Queens Center mall at about 2:45 p.m., within about an hour of the other fires. Two more blazes were also set that afternoon at a Best Buy and Target at Queens Place, a block away, officials said.

Fires were also lit at a Toys”R”Us, Staples and T.J.Maxx at the Rego Center mall as well as a J.C. Penney at Queens Center Sunday evening, officials said.

On Thursday, Sumair allegedly set a blaze at the same Rego Center Sears from Monday.

No one was injured in any of the fires, but Sumair is accused of destroying clothing, towels, and other merchandise in the blazes, according to officials.

Surveillance photos from the Staples fire helped authorities identify the suspect as he was exiting the Burlington Coat Factory, police said.

When Sumair, was caught at the store, an officer allegedly found a lighter in his pocket, according to prosecutors. Afterwards, he allegedly admitted setting the mall fires.

Sumair was also charged with criminal mischief for breaking numerous windows with rocks at the Long Island Consultation Center in Rego Park on Dec. 19, 20 and 26. He allegedly told cops he “broke the windows for fun and to watch the police respond,” Brown said.




Man charged after series of Queens mall fires: police

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 25, 10:15 a.m.

A man has been arrested following a rash of store fires at three Queens malls, police said.

The suspect, identified as 23-year-old Dereck Sumair, of Jamaica, was apprehended after allegedly setting a fire at a Burlington Coat Factory at the Rego Center mall, just before 4 p.m. Monday, the NYPD said.

Earlier that afternoon, merchandise was set on fire at an Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond and Sears at the same 96-05 Queens Blvd. shopping center, according to police.

On Monday, another blaze occurred at Macy’s at the nearby Queens Center mall at about 3 p.m., within 30 minutes of the other fires. Two more blazes were set about an hour earlier, at a Best Buy and Target at Queens Place, a block away, cops said.

On Friday, fires were also lit at the same Rego Center Sears as well as a Toys”R”Us, Staples and T.J.Maxx at the shopping center, police said.

No one was injured in any of the blazes, cops said.

Surveillance photos from the Staples fire helped authorities identify the suspect as he was exiting the Burlington Coat Factory, the NYPD said.

Sumair has been charged with 12 counts of arson, 11 counts of reckless endangerment and 18 counts of criminal mischief, according to police, who did not make clear which fires Sumair is charged with starting.



Queens Library space to open in Queens Center

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


Shoppers will soon be able to take a break in between stores and visit the library.

Queens Center, located at 90-15 Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst, has invited the Queens Library to open up a library space within the mall. It will be located adjacent to the food court and is expected to open in late spring.

“We are excited about bringing Queens Library to the Queens Center mall. It is an opportunity to reach even more people and familiarize them with everything Queens Library can do to enrich their lives,” said Queens Library’s Chief Operating Officer Bridget Quinn-Carey. “The library space at Queens Center mall will have books and reading material to engage people at the mall, or they can borrow and take books home. We will be hosting special programs as well.”

The library space, which will be Wi-Fi enabled, will include comfortable seating and offer a collection of popular books which people can sit down and read or borrow with their library cards. Laptops will be available to rent for use within the space and tablets may also be offered.

Free library card sign-up will be available at the location and there will be a schedule of promotional events in collaboration with other mall tenants  and programs, such as speakers, arts and crafts, kids’ educational entertainment and more. 

The space will also feature computer terminals to look up and request materials, order books  and research things to do in their neighborhoods. Full reference and referral services will be available by phone. 




Development will bring new eateries, jobs near Queens Center

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

Shoppers at Queens Center will soon be able to dine on endless breadsticks, 12 ounce steaks and buckets of crab, just by crossing the street.

According to city officials, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and Joe’s Crab Shack will be opening at the 26,000-square-foot restaurant development on a current vacant lot at the corner of 92nd Street and 59th Avenue in Elmhurst. The development will also feature a parking lot on the remaining space.

The location has been owned and developed by the College Point and Whitestone based Mattone Group since 2001. The Mattone Group originally planned to open up a movie theatre at the location but had trouble lining up a tenant, said city officials. The Economic Development Corporation filed a lawsuit against the owners because of their failure to use the lot after acquiring it. After reaching an approximately $3 million settlement earlier this year and creating a deed modification for the location, the Mattone Group found the three chain restaurants as new tenants.

The development is expected to break ground later this year and the new restaurants are expected to be completed by 2016, said city officials. The new eateries will also create close to 225 permanent jobs.



New Year’s Eve fashion on a budget

| aaltman@queenscourier.com


Skirt (Papaya): $10.99

Sequin top (Papaya ): $15.99

Fur Vest (Papaya):  $19.99

Booties (Afaze): $38.99







Jacket (H&M):  $79.95

Slacks (H&M): $34.99

Shirt (J.C. Penney): $20

Bow Tie (J.C. Penney): $20

Shoes (J.C. Penney): $50






Dress (H&M): $14.95

Booties (Afaze): $38









Jacket (H&M): $79.50

Vest (H&M): $29.95

Shirt (J.C. Penney): $45

Slacks (H&M): $34.95

Tie (J.C. Penney): $20

Shoes (J.C. Penney): $80

Shoppers line up for savings on Black Friday

| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Billy Rennison

Fighting off the tryptophan, shoppers made their way out after Thanksgiving dinner eschewing sleep and leftovers for some early morning shopping.

Nearly 150 million people were expected to take advantage of Black Friday sales throughout the country this weekend, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey.

For some, Black Friday has become a tradition with Thanksgiving dinner providing the necessary energy for the shopping spectacle waiting the next morning.

“You eat, relax a little and then you’re ready to shop,” said Marilyn Bloom as she waited online outside Macy’s in Queens Center.

An estimated $586.1 billion will be spent during the holiday season, according to the NRF, a 4.1 percent increase from last year.

“Though the Black Friday tradition is here to stay, there’s no question that it has changed in recent years; already there is a tremendous amount of excitement and anticipation surrounding retailers’ Thanksgiving and Black Friday promotions,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

Many shoppers have begun to skip the long lines of Black Friday, instead opting for the ease of buying online on Cyber Monday. For others, the yearly practice of lining up the night of Thanksgiving has become a tradition.

“I do this every year. I prepare, check the deals and know exactly what I want. That’s how you have to do it, or you’ll be lost,” said Gabrielle Gandy, 37.

While Black Friday has begun to creep deeper into Thanksgiving – some national chains opened as early as 8 p.m. on Thursday – most stores in Queens Center waited for the stroke of midnight before opening their doors.

A DJ spinning records on the bottom floor provided the soundtrack to the party-like atmosphere in the Queens mall.

Z100’s Skeery Jones was also on hand giving customers a chance to win gift cards to the mall through a bevy of games.

As midnight approached, a New Year’s Eve like anticipation built outside Macy’s, which had the mall’s longest line, with customers even counting down the time until the doors would open.

“You have to get in there fast, but you don’t want to get stepped on,” said Erick Cruz as midnight approached.

Once crowded hallways emptied as shoppers flooded into stores as soon as the gates rose.

While some shops had hundreds of people lined up waiting to get in, others had none allowing shoppers to stock up on savings while avoiding the waiting and the crowds.

“It’s kind of crazy not to come. You’re paying less and there’s not even a line,” said Vic Calderon at Banana Republic, which no lines, but was offering 40 percent off.

A couple of blocks west at Queens Place, buyers looking to stock up on gadgets lined up outside the mall’s Best Buy hoping to score the hundreds of dollars of savings the electronics megastore was offering on televisions, computers and phones.

A floor up at Target, customers poured in at 9 p.m. to stock up on clothing, electronics and appliances.

Wielding multiple bags in each hand, Rachel Morales, 36, said however crazy it may get on Black Friday, the crowds are well worth it.

“I’m done Christmas shopping. Maybe just a couple of more small things,” she said. “Wait to the weekend before Christmas and then you’ll see craziness.”

Queens Center Provides Over 1,000 Back Packs for Borough-wide Distribution

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The pencils are sharpened, the chalkboards are clean, now it’s time to get students off to a successful school year.

Queens Center provided over 1,000 backbacks to elected officials to help local children in need. The back packs were distributed to Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Senator Jose Peralta, Council Member Julissa Ferreras and Council Member Daniel Dromm and were filled with school supplies.

Starting the school year off right helps minimize academic stress, lessen anxieties and empowers youth with a strong sense of self-worth. Knowing this, Queens Center is doing its part by helping economically disadvantaged school aged children get prepared for the upcoming school year by providing essential Back to School supplies.


Back-to-school sales and deals

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

school buses3

School is about to start and for parents that means buying new clothes, school supplies and more. Here’s a list of some local back-to-school deals that you can shop for around Queens or online.


Carter’s Children’s Wear
(Bay Terrace Shopping Center, Bell Blvd. & 26th Ave., Bayside)
Now through Aug. 29

  • Save up to 50% off on back-to-school favorites, such as dresses, tunics, leggings, polos, hoodies and more in stores and online.

Modell Sporting Goods
(various locations in Queens)
Now through Aug. 30

  • Men’s Polo’s 4 for $20
  • 40% off Men’s Classic Jersey Pants, Fleece, or Cargo Pants
  • 50% off Vortex Backpacks
  • Women’s Russell Fleece Separates Buy 1, get 1 free
  • 20% off Entire Stock of Moret Ultra Separates
  • Fila Workout Capris or Leggings $15
  • Boys’ Tricot or Soft Poly Windpants $10
  • 40% off classic fleece pant or Pullover Hood MSRP $35 Now $21

Old Navy
(various locations in Queens)

Now through Aug. 29

  • All jeans on sale for the entire family.

Now through Sept. 5

  • All uniforms on sale.
Shoe Village
(45-22 162nd St., Flushing)
Now through Sept. 8
  • Buy one pair and get one 50% off. (Located at

Stride Rite
(Queens Center, 90-15 Queens Blvd., Elmhurst)
Now through Sept. 4

  • BOGO: Buy one pair and get another for 50% off.

The Children’s Place
(various locations in Queens)
Now through Sept. 10

  • For every $40 spent of merchandise (excluding Gift Cards) on a single order, before taxes, shipping fees and after any discounts, you will earn one (1) $20 PLACE cash coupon redeemable on your next in store or online purchase off $40 or more between September 11, 2012 and September 23, 2012.



Apple Store
(various locations in Long Island & Manhattan)
Now through  Sept. 21

  • Buy the new iPad for college through September 21 and receive a $50 Back to School gift card to use on apps, books, music, and movies. Or buy a Mac and get $100 Back to School Gift Card. And if you choose a Mac, save even more with Apple Education Pricing.

Best Buy
(various locations in Queens)

  • Power up for college with savings in every department.

(various locations in Queens)
Now through Sept. 15

  • Buy a Back to School Savings Pass for $10 and save on hundreds of school supplies. For more back to school deals at Staples, click here.



(Queens Center, 90-15 Queens Blvd., Elmhurst)
Now through Aug. 31

  • Free haircuts for kids in K-6th grade.
  • Kid’s Eyeglasses Sale: Children 16 and under can get a complete pair of glasses, including frames (valued at up to $120), polycarbonate lens and an eyeglass protection plan for only $25 throughout the month of August.

188th St., Fresh Meadows; 61-35 Junction Blvd., Elmhurst)
Now through Sept. 1

  • 30%-50% off All Collections, Dressy Skirts, Dresses & Dressy Bottoms
  • 30-40% off All Tops For Juniors
  • Buy 1, Get 1 Half off On All Socks For Her
  • Buy 1, Get 1 half Off All Basics for Men * Packaged Socks & Underwear for Boys 4-20
  • 40% off All Urban Pipeline Apparel
  • All chaps School Uniforms Buy 1, Get One for $1
  • 25-30% off All Fashion Jewelry
  • 30-40% off Handbags

(13505 20th Ave. College Point; 8801 Queens Blvd. Elmhurst)
Now through Sept. 29

  • Sale on select backpacks. For more back to school savings, click here.



Christie & Co. Salon Spa
(2364 Bell Blvd., Bayside)
Now through Sept. 14

  • Students and teachers with ID can get a BTS Mini Makeover or BTS Mini Spa for $99, or a BTS Hi-Lites Makeover for $150.

Pearle Vision
(various locations in Queens)

  • 50% off kids’ lenses with frame purchase
  • Buy one get one free
  • Save up to $100 on daily disposable contact lenses

Triboro Pharmacy
(37-20 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria)
Now through August 31

  • $5.00 off any purchase over $25 with coupon – available in the Queens Courier.

Forever 21 may be coming to Atlas Park

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


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

Queens Center job fair draws 1,400

| RubenMuniz@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the Borough President’s office

More than 1,000 eager job seekers flooded the Queens Center Mall last week.

At the mall’s third job fair on Thursday, May 17, employers like Citibank, Resorts World and the United States Tennis Association were among the 25 recruiters in attendance in search of new employees.

Borough President Helen Marshall also stopped by to socialize with recruiters and job seekers. There were more than 400 jobs available at the fair and over 1,400 job seekers attended the event in hopes of finding employment. Many said they heard about the opportunity through advertisements and social media.

Over 300 candidates are expected to be called back for a second interview, according to Dawn Simon, senior manager of marketing at the Queens Center Mall.

“It will help the economy of Queens with new job opportunities,” she said.

Good Samaritan critically injured rescuing drunk man from subway tracks

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Good Samaritan critically injured rescuing drunk man from subway tracks

A good Samaritan trying to help a drunken man off the Staten Island Railway tracks was hit by a train and critically injured Sunday, officials said. Steven Santiago, 39, came across a drunk who had jumped onto the tracks to retrieve his lost shoe in the New Dorp station about 1:30 a.m., relatives and cops said. When the drunk couldn’t get back onto the platform, Santiago jumped down to help him, officials said. “He is a great man who risked his life to save someone he doesn’t even know,” said the hero’s stunned brother Edwin Santiago, 42. A Tottenville-bound train barreled into the station with both men still on the tracks. The drunk somehow avoided being hit, but Steven Santiago was taken to Staten Island University Hospital North in critical condition after the train slammed into his head, police said. Read More: Daily News

Dallas Cowboys receiver Kevin Ogletree sits at bedside of brother who was shot in Queens

Dallas Cowboys player Kevin Ogletree was holding vigil Sunday at his big brother’s hospital bedside in Queens — praying he would survive being shot in the head by a pair of bicycling gunmen, a relative said. Calvin Ogletree, 25, remained in critical condition at Jamaica Hospital Sunday night, a day after he was shot in front of his luxury car rental shop on Linden Boulevard in St. Albans. “He’s a good kid; he has a good heart,” Calvin Ogletree’s uncle, Mark Ross, told the Daily News. Read More: Daily News

Worry on Whitestone waterfront; impending sale of 13-acre parcel sparks overdevelopment concerns 

A 13-acre property in Whitestone is up for grabs — the largest single parcel of land for sale in Queens — and it’s attracting the attention of developers but also causing concern among community leaders. The former industrial site, located at 151-45 6th Road, was re-zoned for 52 one-family homes in 2008. The waterfront property comes with an additional five acres that is submerged underwater. Local leaders worried about overdevelopment in the community said they are concerned that a new owner could build many more homes or even multi-family dwellings. Read More: Daily News

Queens Broker Is Accused of Bringing Immigrants’ Ruin

For years, a self-made real estate magnate named Edul Ahmad personified the collective dreams of Richmond Hill, which is populated by many immigrants from Guyana, in South America. Ahmad drove a yellow Lamborghini, sponsored a cricket team and held white-glove parties at a lavish banquet hall that he owned. At a prominent intersection near the border of Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park, his smiling face looked down from a large billboard that promoted his real estate services. Many residents responded, taking out high-risk mortgages that they were told they could readily afford. In July, it all came crashing down. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Mr. Ahmad, charging him with masterminding a $50 million mortgage fraud that seemed to exemplify a nationwide phenomenon of celebrated immigrant brokers who were accused of preying on their own. Read More: New York Times

Straphangers Cope With Major MTA Weekend Repairs

With the Metropolitan Transportation Authority doing maintenance and construction this weekend, 17 of the city’s 22 subway lines — the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, A, C, D, E, F, G, J, N, Q, R and S lines — are experiencing some type service disruption. For many, it was confusing, annoying and downright frustrating. Some Q train riders in Downtown Brooklyn said on Saturday night that they had it with all the weekend service disruptions. “You got to get off at one particular point in Brooklyn, switch to the bus, get back on another train and it’s not the train that we need. It’s crazy,” said one rider. Read More: NY1

Fallout over failed Queens center

A longtime board member of a politically connected Queens nonprofit resigned yesterday after The Post reported that his publicly funded group owed the Port Authority $2.7 million over its stalled plan to create a new business center. The sudden resignation of Greater Jamaica Development Corp. board member Cruz Russell, whose $173,000-a-year day job is with the PA, came as the bistate agency announced an exhaustive review of its dealings with the nonprofit over the ailing JFK Corporate Square project. Read More: New York Post

New York coalition presents redisticting maps to boost Asian-American, Latino and African-American representation

A coalition of Asian-American, Latino and African-American groups has released a new set of redistricting maps it believes will give the city’s large ethnic populations a greater voice in future elections. The so-called Unity Maps are just one proposal being sent to state lawmakers as they decide how Senate, Assembly and congressional districts in the city should be redrawn to reflect changes in the 2010 Census. A state task force is slated to release its redistricting proposal in the next week or so. Read More: Daily News

Beyonce’s hospital mates baby-bumped

Pushy parents Beyoncé and Jay-Z installed bulletproof glass and burly bodyguards at the Upper East Side hospital where their diva daughter was just born — and even booted worried moms and dads out of the neonatal intensive-care unit. The fuming other parents at Lenox Hill Hospital said they were essentially put on “lockdown” so that the pampered songstress and her party could come and go as they pleased. “They just used the hospital like it was their own and nobody else mattered,” blasted new dad Neil Coulon, who said his efforts to see his premature, newborn twins in the neonatal ICU were disrupted at least four times by the arrival of Beyoncé and her tiny rap princess, Blue Ivy Carter, over the weekend. Read More: New York Post

Liu kicked in arrears

Embattled Comptroller John Liu, the city’s chief fiscal officer, is an accused deadbeat. Con Edison and the state Tax Department have taken separate legal action against his campaign committee, People for John Liu, for allegedly failing to pay nearly $1,500 in outstanding bills and taxes, The Post has learned. Con Ed is suing in Brooklyn Civil Court for about $500 in unpaid electric bills and has sicced a collection agency on him. The delinquency covers energy usage from a campaign office that Liu rented at 1424 Fulton Street in 2008 and 2009 when he was running for his current job, records show. Con Ed filed its initial suit October 14, 2009. A second suit was filed June 25, 2010, after the bills remained unpaid. Read More: New York Post

Changes coming to Atlas Park?

| brennison@queenscourier.com

A name change, among other modifications, may be in store for the struggling Shops at Atlas Park.

Macerich, Atlas’ owner, is still in the process of reviewing the mall and considering alterations, which may include a renaming.

“Whenever we redevelop, there is a whole list of possibilities, and a name change is one of them,” said Tim Steffan, senior vice president of property management at Macerich. “This is part of the normal process.  It takes time to get arms around the entire project and property.”

The shops were originally named after the former occupants of the property, Atlas Terminal. There is no definitive timetable for a decision on whether the mall will undergo a name change.

Macerich purchased the 21-acre open-air shopping and entertainment center for approximately $54 million at a January 2011 foreclosure auction after its former owners defaulted on a $128 million loan to two French banks in 2009.

The Santa Monica headquartered company also owns and operates Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst which sits just two miles away from Atlas Park.

Steffan said that though the mall is just down the road, in an incredibly dense market, Queens Center has no effect on Atlas.

Glendale’s Atlas Park was unveiled in 2006 as an outdoor “lifestyle center,” but its mix of restaurants and boutiques slumped through recent years. Shoppers have complained about a lack of “anchor” stores.

“It’s lovely, but it is usually a second thought when I think about shopping,” said Middle Village resident Cathy Rose.

Steffan said that any mall needs an anchor or destination as a draw. The company will also look into expanding entertainment in the center.

“There is no one store attraction that shoppers come for,” said Michelle Herrera, who said she frequents the restaurants in the mall. “Most people seem to come to eat or watch a movie.”

The mall currently features California Pizza Kitchen, Chili’s, Manor Oktoberfest, Shiro of Japan, Simply Fondue and Venezia Ristorante.

“Nothing is off the table right now.  We are looking at everything from a 360-degree perspective — parking, access, merchandise,” Steffan said of a potential reinvention of the site.  “Simply put, we are a patient group.  We acquired [Atlas Park] because we believe in the community. We want to make it better, something of value to the community.”

Queens Center tree lighting kicks off Christmas season

| nkarimi@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Nargas Karimi.

Three . . . two. . . one. . . holiday lights!

To kick off the holiday season, nearly 250 people of all ages gathered for the tree lighting ceremony at Queens Center Mall on November 19.

“This is the 8th annual tree lighting event. It doesn’t take too long to plan this event, but each year we try to create a fresh approach to make it more interesting and exciting,” said Dawn Simon, senior marketing manager at Queens Center Mall.

Guests who made an appearance were Senator Jose Peralta, Councilmember Daniel Dromm, Melva Miller, director of Economic Development from the borough president’s office, and of course, Santa Claus.

Throughout the event, both children and adults were dancing to the DJ’s music.

“In order to put the event together, we make sure that every ‘I’ is dotted. We want our retailers and people in the community to have an awesome experience,” said Simon.

Santa Claus helped the guests countdown from 10 to light up the 40-foot-tall tree.

“This is my first time attending the event. I randomly came to the mall to do some shopping, but I have to say it’s pretty nice; I like the music,” said local shopper Mariam Faqiri.

Another shopper, Sarah Ghafoori from Whitestone, said, “I look forward to the holiday season because everyone gets together and just enjoys each other’s company.”