Borders Closure Becomes Another Question Mark for Atlas Park

Unable to climb out of financial hardship, Borders is preparing to shut all of its 399 bookstores nationwide, including their location in the Shops at Atlas Park.

The bookstore, at 80-16 Cooper Avenue, has been one of the most successful shops in the Glendale mall and remains Atlas Park’s biggest draw. The Borders bookstore is expected to close its doors in September.

Earlier this year, Borders closed seven of its 19 regional locations; at the time, the Atlas Park Borders was spared. The bookstore giant is now liquidating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“Following the best efforts of all parties, we are saddened by this development,” said Borders Group President Mike Edwards in a statement. “We were all working hard towards a different outcome, but the headwinds we have been facing for quite some time, including the rapidly changing book industry, eReader revolution, and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now.”

Only six months ago the struggling Shops at Atlas Park was sold to Macerich, a California-based company known locally for successfully managing the Queens Center Mall. While the Shops at Atlas Park mall has struggled notoriously since the Hemmerdinger family opened it in 2006 (many complained it was too high-end for the blue-collar neighborhood), the Macerich purchase was seen as a promising sign.

To date, the company has done little to change the mall’s offerings or profitability. Nevertheless, the Atlas Park’s representatives are putting a positive spin on the loss of one of its biggest draws.

R.J. Ryan, Atlas Park senior property manager said that “retail is cyclical, opening doors for what is new and innovative for our business.”

“Our company is well prepared and has been monitoring this situation at Atlas as we carefully consider and continue research for the future of the center,” he said. “We take a long-term view and believe that situations like this pave the way for new retail innovations and successes at Atlas.”

State Senator Joe Addabbo said the closure is an indictment of Borders, not Atlas Park, and that he’s confident Macerich, given its background in mall management, can still turn the site around.

“I’m willing to wait to get things right,” he said. “The jobs that can be realized just at Atlas Park … it’s a significant amount for our communities.”

Addabbo has been discussing traffic management and the mall’s coexistence with the surrounding residential area since Macerich took over in February.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, whose district is home to Atlas Park, has been vying for the mall’s success. Before Macerich made the winning bid, she had suggested a partnership with City University of New York to bring classroom facilities to the mall. Now, according to a report in the Daily News, Crowley is working with Macerich to change zoning regulations that would allow a larger store to move into the mall.

Currently, no single retailer can occupy a space larger than 10,000 square feet.

The liquidation of Border’s will lead to the closure of nearly 400 stores nationwide, which currently provide nearly 11,000 jobs. Closures were expected to start as early as last week and run through the end of September.

Other New York City Borders locations include Columbus Circle, Penn Station, LaGuardia Airport, Kennedy International Airport and on Staten Island.

by David J. Harvey


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