For the most part, though, Owen feels the community has supported Queens Center Mall throughout the years. In fact, some realtors use the proximity to Queens Center as a selling point when advertising properties.
“I think regardless of what part of the country you’re in, shopping and entertainment value is going to be in your top three or four of what you’re looking for,” Owen said.
While Queens Center features national stores like Aeropostale and Macy’s, Owen believes that the mall has an important responsibility to work with small businesses in the local community.
“We try to compliment, whether it’s a local retailer or a regional retailer,” he said. “If they are trying to get a foothold within a mainstream mall like ours, we try to work with them on things like finding the right location within the mall, what does the business plan look like, and seeing if it makes sense for our market.”
Owen said even if you see a national brand at Queens Center Mall, it could be owned by a local franchisee. For instance, Red Mango and Chick-Fil-A are both owned by local residents, while there’s a T-Mobile corporate store and a T-Mobile kiosk owned by a local franchisee.
Macerich also owns The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale, but unlike Queens Center that has a more traditional shopping mall experience, The Shops at Atlas Park is an outdoor mixed-use lifestyle center.
Though lifestyle centers are frequently seen in the south or west coast, Macerich is transforming The Shops at Atlas Park to be a viable alternative to Queens Center. To do so, it’s about leasing.
“You’ve got to get the right tenants first,” Owen said. “You’ve got to get the tenants that customers want to shop in, and we’ve been really putting in the resources to find the right tenants. We really work all of our centers into what’s in the best interest of the tenant and therefore ourselves.”
A huge boost to The Shops at Atlas Park, he said, was the addition of stores such as Home Goods and Ashley Furniture. The mall also features local businesses like Brooklyn Cupcake.
As the economy continues to recover, Queens Center remains a hotspot for businesses. If a store decides to leave the mall, there’s always interest and a number of businesses ready to take its place. When Payless decided to leave the mall, Owen and his team decided to bring in the regional store Jimmy Jazz.
“This mall is at the hub of the borough, it is at the crossroads,” Owen said, “with all of the vehicle transportation, buses and subways and just the amount of people living closing enough to walk around here. We’re lucky enough to be in high demand.”