“This mall, it ought to be in Florida,” said Joe Keane, drawing another pull from his cigarette. Indeed, the layout of the Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale looks more suited to a southern climate than that of the brisk December evening that saw shoppers cower as they went from storefront to storefront. It also lacks the panache of more upscale malls, even though it sits in one of Queens’ more wealthy districts.
The open-air shopping center first opened in 2006 under the banner of New York’s Hemmerdinger real estate dynasty, but was in forclosure as of 2009 and was sold to California real estate investment trust Macerich 2011. It’s main problems as Keane, a 55 year-old real estate developer said, were the “lack of a flagship tenant and too much open air.” The shopping center’s biggest and most-profitable tenant according to Keane is the Regal Cinemas location, which he attributes to being “cleaner and less crowded” than that of the Queens Center Mall 2 miles away.
The lack of crowds seems a function of the cold weather, though. The open grass, that holds a Christmas tree during the holiday season, is usually inhabited by teenagers hanging out, children’s rides, and a bandstand during the warmer months. Aside from diners heading in or out of the Johnny Rocket’s, Chili’s, and California Pizza Kitchen restaurants on-site and photographers taking in the tree, foot traffic was virtually non-existent. “The only reason I’m here is because my daughter’s at a birthday party tonight,” Keane laughed as the smoke billowed from his cigarette.