To an older generation of Green Acres shoppers, it’s officially the end of an era. The Valley Stream mall plans to tear down its vacant Sears department store and Sears Auto store as it undergoes its latest redevelopment.
One of the mall’s original anchor department stores, Sears, has steadily fallen out of demand with customers, struggling to survive until it finally declared bankruptcy in 2018. It officially shuttered its doors at the mall in 2021 after nearly 40 years of operation.
Now, in the hands of the Macerich Co., the California-based real estate investment trust that bought the mall in 2013, new life is being breathed into the languishing remains of the empty property.
- Valley Stream's Green Acres Mall embarks on a major redevelopment project, signaling the end of an era with plans to demolish the vacant Sears department store and revamp the space for a more modern retail experience.
- The redevelopment emphasizes a shift towards creating a more accessible and open-air environment, with landscaped green spaces, parking access, and outdoor dining options.
- Despite challenges facing malls nationwide, Green Acres Mall remains a resilient commercial hub, attracting millions of annual visitors and generating significant sales revenue, with plans for future growth including a new ShopRite supermarket.
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Rather than a department store, landscaped open spaces, parking lots, and dining terraces are expected to stand in the place of the 144,000-square-foot building. The developers will also be razing the former 116,000-square-foot Kohl’s department store to make way for a large spread of retail stores and restaurants with outside entrances.
The redevelopment plans were shared with a packed crowd of eager brokers and financial heads from the Commercial Industrial Brokers Society of Long Island on Jan. 18 at the former Kohl’s space.
The redevelopment could be described as something of a reinvention. While the mall has undergone expansions and transformations in the past, its reuse of the space focuses more than ever on walkability and a breathable open-air experience.
Building space is being scaled back to free up room for open-air amenities including pedestrian-friendly green space, more parking access, and dine-in patio options.
“We’re taking down more usable retail space than we’re adding back. So, it’s addition by subtraction,” Macerich representative Eric Bunyan told brokers. “We know that we need to create an environment that is accessible, where you can park, and where the customer feels comfortable entering and exiting the property.”
The revamp expects to bring more foot traffic, accommodate changing consumer needs, and spur business confidence for tenants and brokers about the prospects of setting up a retail presence.
This comes at a time when malls nationwide have reckoned with the boom of online retail shopping, pandemic restrictions, a shrinking middle class, and the competitive success of large independent wholesale stores.
But Green Acres has been a resiliently strong commercial hub for many years with a dynamic market, noted Macerich representative Dustin Rand.
“Green Acres has over 20 million annual visitors and generates over 1 billion in sales,” said Rand. “You can drive virtually 30 minutes in any direction here, and you’re not going to have very many retail options. We feel that retailers can open here, expand their brand presence, and increase their sales in the marketplace.”
The new space will not just be eateries and traditional retail stores.
ShopRite’s supermarket chain also intends to build an 82,000-square-foot store on what is now a parking space. Green Acres expects their incoming tenant to be well-patronized by residents looking for a convenient, full-service supermarket to replace Sears as an anchor store.
Macerich officials noted that while a general timeline exists on the project much depends on the pace with which they can get building approvals and code clearance from the Village of Valley Stream and Town of Hempstead. They further stated that they intend to demolish the Sears buildings by the end of the year and have the ShopRite open by 2025.
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