Atlas Neighbors Placed Up For Sale
By Brian M. Rafferty
The former owners of the Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale have put the majority of their surrounding property on the market, approximately 375,000 square feet of space covering 11.3 acres.
The announcement came this week from the family-owned property developer, ATCO. The site, commonly known as Atlas Terminals, was developed as a railroad terminal for warehouse and industrial uses in the 1920s. From this one property, ATCO has been able to develop interests in a slew of Manhattan properties as well as in locations across the eastern United States and Europe.
"We've owned Atlas Terminals since the early 1920s, but it may be time to sell the property," said ATCO Senior Vice President Damon Hemmerdinger. Though ATCO has owned the property for four generations, it is not turning its back on Glendale, with plans to continue to keep some of its operations in the area.
|The 11 acres of Atlas Terminals adjacent to the Shops At Atlas Park have been listed for sale and could be a potential development site. Tribune Photo by Ira Cohen
"ATCO's commitment to Queens remains strong," Hemmerdinger said. "We plan to invest the proceeds in Queens, and we will keep our accounting, acquisitions and property management teams located in the area.
The Shops at Atlas Park opened at 80th Street and Cooper Avenue in Glendale in 2006. Tucked away in a hidden corner of the borough, the mall quickly lost tenants and was unable to sustain foot traffic necessary to be profitable. In February 2009, creditors who backed ATCO pulled their note and initiated foreclosure proceedings. A new property manager, the Mattone Group, was brought in at that time, but even they turned their backs on the mall in April 2010, just 14 months later.
Earlier this year, Atlas Park and its property were purchased by the Macerich Group, which operates Queens Center Mall. Macerich has sought to attract new retailers to the mall, but in the meantime the only retail anchor remaining, Borders, declared bankruptcy and has since closed shop, leaving Atlas inhabited by a slew of small chain shops, a handful of restaurants, a New York Sports Club franchise and a very successful movie theater.
Though the success of Atlas Mall may lay in its future, Atlas Terminals has remained active, most recently inking a 10-year deal with Astoria-based sneaker manufacturer Moe's Sneaker Spot, which counts Nike as one of its clients. Atlas also is home to the ASPCA, CF Peters - an international music publisher, and other tenants.
The site is more than twice the size of the 5.5-acre Municipal Lot 1 in Flushing slated for the development of Flushing Commons, the $850 million project expected to have 275,000 square feet of retail, a hotel, residential towers and plenty of open space. Development of that kind at the site is not considered likely given the isolation of Atlas Terminals. The nearest highway entrance is the Jackie Robinson Parkway on Myrtle Avenue, and the nearest large thoroughfare is Woodhaven Boulevard, several blocks away.
Hemmerdinger could not say what sort of development could be expected from potential buyers, but the site's M1-1 zoning permits manufacturing, office, self-storage, and a variety of retail uses.
"This is certainly a milestone," Hemmerdinger said of the sale listing, "but it is one what will bring new opportunities and new challenges that we look forward to." He added that the company planned to reinvest any money from the sale into existing properties and possibly other future Queens development.
Noting that the sale of Atlas Terminals would mean breaking the connection between the family's past and its newest endeavors, Hemmerdinger was optimistic about the future.
"It's bittersweet, but the history of our company has been about reinvention over the years, and this milestone is just the latest reinvention," he said.
The sale is being handled by Eastdil Secured, a company that has handled purchases for ATCO in the past.
Reach Editor Brian Rafferty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (7180 357-7400, Ext. 122.