Green Acres Mall; Valley Stream, New York

The Green Acres Mall is a large, old shopping mall located just barely outside of New York city limits on Sunrise Highway in Valley Stream, a Long Island suburb. At 1,635,000 square feet, it’s one of the largest malls on Long Island, and also the second oldest, after Roosevelt Field.

Some of the most popular malls on this site have been in the tri-state area, so rather than keep you waiting, I’m offering up another:

Green acres is the place for me.
Farm livin’ is the life for me.
Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

The Green Acres Mall is a large, old shopping mall located just barely outside of New York city limits on Sunrise Highway in Valley Stream, a Long Island suburb. At 1,635,000 square feet, it’s one of the largest malls on Long Island, and also the second oldest, after Roosevelt Field.

The Green Acres Mall was developed by the New York-based Chanin corporation, and first opened in 1956 replacing Curtiss Airfield, and was one of the first suburban shopping centers in the New York metropolitan area. The mall’s name is somewhat indicative of the post-war optimism of the time; it was an era when this area’s population was rapidly exploding, and it was necessary to provide more out-of-town shopping options to the sprawling Levittowns of Long Island. A four-level, 266,000 square-foot Gimbel’s (the westernmost anchor) was the only initial anchor to the center, but a Lane’s opened at the mall’s east end four years later. JCPenney also opened a smaller inline store at the mall’s center court at some point, and they remain in this location to today. In 1967, a 320,000 square-foot Alexander’s department store opened in the front of (but apparently not connected to) the mall. Initially, the center was open air, but in 1968 the entire center was enclosed, as was the trend at the time.

The original center was a more basic dumbell design. but a 3 level expansion and renovation in 1983 added the wing closest to Sunrise Highway along with a new Sears store. A brand new food court was added to this wing at some point as well, though I have my doubts it was right in the original 1983 expansion. In 1986, the Gimbel’s store became an Abraham & Straus (and here’s a GREAT photo of it), which would remain until 1995 when the nameplate was retired in favor of Macy’s. The Lane’s store, at the mall’s east end, would be home to many different nameplates over the years. The store became a Love’s in the late 1960s, before becoming an S. Klein for ten years or so. EJ Korvette’s then replaced the S. Klein store, which in the 1980s became a location for Queens-based Gertz before being rebranded as a Stern’s. Stern’s lasted until 2001, before becoming half of the Macy’s location at the mall, which it remains until now. The Alexander’s store closed in 1992 and was completely demolished, and replaced somewhat nearby by a Caldor store, which, well, geez, that didn’t work out so well either. Gone by 1999. It’s a Target now.

In 2003, a Walmart opened in a strip center on the mall’s outlots, replacing an old Kmart store. Although this wouldn’t normally be big news, this particular Walmart was the site of a major news story in fall of 2008, when a Walmart employee was trampled to death by a mob obsessed with Black Friday bargains.

The mall was again renovated in 2006-2007 to remove a lot of the neon accoutrements left over from the 1983 re-do: our two sets of photos date from 2001 (I think) and 2007, so before and after this most recent remodel. I’ll let you guess which is which because let’s be honest, it’s not that hard.

Despite all of the changes to Green Acres Mall over years, it has remained successful. It’s still one of the largest/only malls serving the adjacent part of Queens, and it is a vital shopping destination for the older inner ring suburbs not far from JFK Airport. Even though it seems the demographics have evolved over the years–from the post-war GI Bill-driven veteran sprawl to a plethora of ethnic and racial groups that shop at the mall today–it seems to be largely similar, serving a large middle income audience in the older suburbs of this part of New York.

The mall’s anchors today are Macy’s (two stores), JCPenney, Sears, and Kohls.

More on the mall:

Author: Caldor

Jason Damas is a search engine marketing analyst and consultant, and a freelance journalist. Jason graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a minor in Music Industry. He has regularly contributed to The Boston Globe,, Amplifier Magazine, All Music Guide, and 168 Magazine. In addition, he was a manager for a record store for over two years. Currently, he focuses on helping companies optimize their web sites to maximize search engine visibility, and is responsible for website conversion analysis, which aims to improve conversion rates by making e-commerce websites more user-friendly. He lives in suburban Boston.

72 thoughts on “Green Acres Mall; Valley Stream, New York”

  1. Got to be honest, I really don’t like the way the new renovation looks. And by looking at the pics, it looks as if they took out the fairly large fountain that was near the elevator. The renovation may not be all that aesthestically pleasing, but at least this Vornado mall is able to retain stores, unlike Monmouth Mall.

  2. Outside the mall on Sunrise Highway you will find a former Circuit City, National Amusements 6-screen theatre, Red Lobster & a formerSeaman’s furniture. I don’t know what those vacant stores became, but the 6-plex theatre was originally a Cineplex Odeon acording to a cinema history web site.

    Just west of the mall National Amusements built another theatre with 14-screens & was noted for riots & a stabbing that happend several years ago. As a result medal detectors were installed, a first for the area.

    The wal-mart as well as a Walbaum’s are located in a strip center across from the mall on Green Acres road.
    Interestingly similar to Broadway Mall & Garden State Plaza, the residential neighborhoods abut the Green Acres property rather tightly. There’s a clear lack of seperation between real estate classes. Walk out the back of the mall near the bus stops & go across the ring road & you will see just how close the houses come to the mall parking lot.

  3. I have been to this mall (and the Walmart and Target) several times since the Valley Stream LIRR station is nearby. Not my favorite- kind of rough.

  4. @Chris, Did you find it a problem crossing Sunrise Highway?

    For those who don’t know, Sunrise Highway is one of the most dangerous streets for padestrians in New York State acording to the Tri-State Transportation campaign.

  5. Not a problem to cross the highway. There are 2 LIRR stations- Valley Stream and the one closer to the city (Rosedale?), and both have crosswalks in front of them. It’s not a long walk from either station.

    The LIRR station closer to the city is right at the NYC border so you can go to it with a $3.50 ticket on weekends.

  6. @Chris, Cool! For $3.50 why not.

    When I go to Roosevelt Field on transit, I bord the LIRR at Jamaica instead of Penn Station to save both money & sanity. It’s only a 15 minute train ride to Mineola & another 10 minutes to the mall by bus.

    What I find totally rediculous is to get to Green Acres from Roosevelt Field, it requires 2 transfers & yet Valley stream is only a few miles from Garden City. The tricky part is crossing Hempstead Turnpike & Elmont Road between the N6 & N1 lines because you litterally take your life in your hands when you cross the street.

  7. The Carle Place LIRR station is closer to Roosevelt Field

  8. @Chris, I didn’t know that, it’s a good thing to remember. The thing is transfers between LIRR trains & LI busses are a sinch since the new Mineola bus terminal opened. It’s literally a few steps off the eastbound platform. Also don’t forget just how traffic clogged Old Country Road can be at times making crossing nearly impossible for padestrians.

    I have sene numerous times cars speeding in & out of the shopping centers in Westbury & assuming that there wont be any padestrians crossing the driveways. They have become more & more brazen in recent years, especially near California Pizza Kitchen/ Wal-mart.

  9. I can remember when this mall had Korvettes as one of its anchors. There used to be a great restaurant here called Len’s, and also a J.J. Newberry, plus Puppy Palace. This is all going back to the late ’70s. I was there when the mall had just been renovated in late 1983; they had a store near the food court where I would get all my stickers. I also think there were a Pergament here as well, and how can I forget Dennison card/party store. Lots of memories of this place back in the day.

  10. I used to live in Valley Stream and still live quite close to this mall. I also worked briefly in the mall. I have seen many of the changes in the mall first hand and it’s nice to see Green Acres finally get some Labelscar Love.

    There has been another, recent, change to the East End Anchor. Macy’s has given up that location and Kohl’s has moved into the spot. This change has been within the last year, but I don’t know exactly when. I first noticed the sign change from the window of a passing LIRR train about 3 months ago.

  11. The Macy’s-to-Kohl’s conversion must be really recent. I was at Green Acres in December 2010 (dropping off my partner at JFK and having the luxury of a rental car for a few more hours was the only reason I would be nuts enough to hit a mall on the Sunday before Christmas) and it was still Macy’s Mens. The larger Macy’s still has a 50’s feel to it, much like the former Gimbels at Cross County in Yonkers.

  12. Tom and Paul,
    The Macy’s Men store is still at the mall. The new Kohl’s is next to the Men’s Macy’s.The Kohl’s is on the northern side. Here is the mall map,
    I believe the Kohl’s took over one of the old Chase locations. The store opened in Sep of 2010.

  13. @Paul, The Macy’s stores at Roosevelt Field, GSP & Yonkers do retaine something of a vintage feel although they have been renovated. the Cross County location has recently been expanded along with a complete renovation of the center including a new parking structure, wider mallways & new bus stops.

  14. @SEAN, Macys, in White Plains and Paramus Park look exactly the same as they were when those locations were Abraham and Straus. With the question mark on Nanuet the inside and outside is really horrible it looks the same before Palisades was built. The money they spend on their flower show and fireworks could be used to rennovate their stores.Thats why I hate Macys they do not take care of some of thier locations and do not give their employees any incentives so thats why there is such an overturn in all their stores.

  15. @rob, A few years before the Paramus Park A&S became Macy’s, it was massively renovtaed, which opened up the escalator bank, made the store much lighter and more open. Even in its state today, it’s quite a nice Macy’s.

  16. @mallguy, Its been over 16 years since Paramus Park became Macys. I shopped Abraham and Straus in Paramus from the late 80s until Macys merged with them. So right now it could stand an updated brighter look. Its tens times better than Nanuet but could use a little fixing up.

  17. @rob, When Macy’s moved to the former A & S/ Stern’s in White Plains the store was not renovated right a way. However a slight cosmetic renovation was done in a few areas including the mens department, but most of the store hasn’t been touched since it opened.

    The biggest problems with that store are it’s figure 8 configuration & it is quite dark in spots with thick seperation walls between departments.

  18. @SEAN, I agree I used to come down to Westchester from Fishkill to shop before Poughkeepsie Galleria was built. So Abraham and S traus does still look the same till this day when i was there a year ago.I saw on line the difference of Cross County because i used to go there when Sterns was there.Cross County has really come about over the years. I feel that Paramus Park the lighting is quite dark also in certain areas of the store and you know how i feel about Nanuet.

  19. @SEAN, Did you know that Lord and Taylor is opening its second store in Westchester in Yonkers in the Ridge Hill Shopping Center in 2012. So that tells us that they are doing ok.

  20. @rob, Oh yes I did. Lord & taylor is scheduled to open there in 2012. In adition National Amusements Cinema Deluxe, Whole Foods & LL Bean are anchoring the center

  21. @Rob, checked out the web site & L & T’s press release was the most recent, but it was a few months ago.

    Some of the other names signed on include Dicks, REI, Cheesecake Factory & Texas de Brazil.

  22. @SEAN, We have an empty Liquidators store empty on route 59 in Nanuet, we could use a Dicks to replace it its been sitting empty for a few years or Big Lots. It seems Westchester is doing better than Rockland retail wise you are right we are squeezed between Westchester and Paramus.There is no way Nanuet mall is ever going to get back.

  23. @rob, Rockland geographicly speaking is in the worst posission of all the counties in the area when it comes to retail. Every retailer has a better store in Westchester, Dutchess or Bergen. Bergen excels at duplocating most stores in Paramus, wich is just about unherd of everywhere else in this country except the cities around Los Angeles perhaps.

    Footnote I ignored Putnum County do to it being so small & having less population than Yonkers.

  24. @SEAN, The Putnam folks could easily split their time between White Plains and Danbury.

  25. @mallguy, You are correct. most likely Danbury though, do to it being a short trip across the state line on I-84. Putnum County’s population is around 100,000 & Yonkers is around 110,000 or so.

  26. @SEAN, Danbury Fair was only 30 minutes from Fishkill we went there for Macys and Lord and Taylor and even Filenes was larger than Poughkeepsie. Its a nice mall.

  27. @rob, Danbury Fair is esentially the design basis for Freehold Raceway. The first time I went there I was a freshman at Purchase College. At the time I couldn’t believe the enormity of the center & now it semes somewhat average in size when you look at malls like Green Acres, Roosevelt Field, GSP & of course Palisades Center.

    I found That Green Acres exudes a strange vibe even though it is just as busy as Roosevelt Field. I cant put my finger on it. Hmmm

  28. @rob, Yes, it really is kind of freaky…in a good way, of course. Haven’t been to Danbury since they did their Freehold-Raceway Mall-like renovation, though.

    Having driven on I-84 East before, the traffic level is much lighter than from Putnam Co-White Plains.

    I have not been to Green Acres Mall since this renovation. The times I’ve been to Long Island recently, in all honestly, I preferred stopping at Roosevelt Field, Walt Whitman and Smith Haven Malls.

  29. @mallguy, I assume Green Acres Mall is doing better than Sunrise Mall?

  30. @mallguy, When I visit friends in Massapequa I have been to Walt Whitman Mall and Roosevelt Field and i am impressed with both over Sunrise Mall. I just wish the malls here in Rockland County were more stable like the malls on Long Island, New Jersey and Danbury. When I visit my family in Raleigh N.C THE MALLS there are so much nicer for some reason and probably seeing different stores that are not here like Stein Mart, Belk and Dillards.I think many people are bored with Macys we need something new and different.

  31. @mallguy, I was the one who made the Green Acres comment above.

    Anyway It’s been a while since I went to Wesfield Sunrise Mall. It is more or less a streight shot from Macy’s to Sears on two levels. A food court was added a few years ago along with a two story Walmart in the original Macy’s location. The current Macy’s was originally Stern’s.

    Even now the mall retains it’s 1960s/ 70s feell & decore. How it has survived in the shadow of Green acres is amazing, but I guess you could say the same reguarding Broadway Mall in terms of being only 7.5 miles from roosevelt Field. Although it’s trade area is very local outside of IKEA, the mall has no trouble atracting shoppers unlike Sunrise wich semes to struggle a bit.

  32. @rob, We have Stein Mart in NJ. It’s a pretty good store…never thought of it as being in a mall, though.

  33. @SEAN, Long Island is actually very similar to NJ in terms of traffic and shopping habits, and as a result, it doesn’t surprise me that Broadway and Sunrise Malls can do so well in the shadow of Roosevelt Field and Green Acres. The same can be said for Brunswick Square doing so well with Menlo and Woodbridge not too far off, and Livingston Mall doing well even though Short Hills is only 4 miles off.

  34. @mallguy, One of the reasons can be attributed to a single word, dencity. Long Island as well as northern & central New Jersey are some of the most dence suburbs in the US & this has allowed for so many malls to thrive for such a long time.

    As you have said in post after post, that is why the malls around the metro area especially in New Jersey need to constently renovate to keep pace with their compitition. We all know what happens if they don’t.

    The last time I was at Broadway mall every retail spot was occupied with “real” tennents , wich I found incredible since this mall is a mear fle next to Roosevelt Field wich is an elephent. Well I guess having Target & IKEA helps with those prospects.

  35. @homan,

    Thanks for the clarification, I only saw the signage from the LIRR and assumed that it took over the Macy’s location – My Bad

  36. I know for a time in the 80s-90s crime used to be a problem around the mall. From the looks of things, it seems to have cleared up. The mall looks beautiful. Last time I went to it, though, was prior to the ’83 renovation.

  37. @InMyCornerOfTheWorld, I remember all that suff too – Bough some seeds in Newsberry’s for alyssum that are perrenial and still grow in my garden.

    Do you remember the name of Pizza place on the outside walk facing Sunrise Highway.

    And what was the name fo the STEAKHOUSE. Was it simply called he STEAKHOUSE?

  38. @Back in the day,

    It was called Cooky’s Steak Pub. My family ate there a lot until my Mom found a cockroach in our booth one time and management didn’t seem to care.

  39. I believe the pizza place was call Tony’s, they had the best square pie around, slice and coke .25 cents.

  40. A slight correction…the Kohl’s at Green Acres occupies only the upper level of one of the Macy’s stores. The lower level is a Macy’s mens & furniture gallery. The other Macy’s location is full line.

  41. @rob, Went to Green Acres not all that long ago & noticed that despite the mall having some empty stores, it’s been able to weather them successfully unlike the Galleria in White Plains wich serves a similar demographic.

    One of the things that makes Green Acres interesting is the mirror immage dumbell design that make up two of the three wings with JC Penney dead center. With this configuration, the Penney’s store is across from where the 2-story wing begins & jets left towards Sears. The Sears wing contains the food court on the upper level.

    Also of note is the number of box stores & restaurants on the malls edge along Green Acres Road & Sunrise Highway. There have been changes over the years including Circuit City, National Amusements cinemas, Seaman’s Furniture, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Petsmart, Petco, Red Lobster, Bronx BBQ, Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy & others.

  42. @Back in the day, The name of the pizza place was called “Golden Crust”. They sold square pizza.

  43. I remember Green Acres before they enclosed it. Kleins was an anchor store (and I believe just before that Lanes was in there). JJ Newberry’s was there as well as Franklin Simon. I worked in the Kleins briefly before I found out I was expecting (complications made working impossible).

  44. Macerich Company to Acquire Two New York Malls for $1.25 Billion

    New York — The Macerich Co. (NYSE: MAC) has agreed to purchase two malls in the New York metropolitan area — Kings Plaza in Brooklyn and Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream — for $1.25 billion.

    “These transactions are consistent with our investment strategy of acquiring assets in the major markets where we have our best assets and selling non-core assets and recycling capital,” says Arthur Coppola, chairman and CEO of Macerich, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based retail REIT

    Kings Plaza spans 1.2 million square feet and is 95 percent leased to tenants such as Aeropostale, American Eagle, Armani Exchange, Forever 21, H&M, MAC, Pink, Swarovski and Victoria’s Secret. Macy’s, Lowe’s and Sears anchor Kings Plaza, which is the only enclosed super regional mall in Brooklyn. The mall’s annual sales production is $650 per square foot.

    Macerich is acquiring the mall from a subsidiary of Alexander’s Inc. for approximately $751 million. Macerich plans on placing secured debt on the property at the closing of the transaction, which is slated for late 2012. The balance of the purchase will either be funded from cash on hand or Macerich’s line of credit.

    The 1.8 million-square-foot Green Acres Mall is located on the border of New York City and Nassau County, and serves customers in southeast Queens and southwest Nassau County. The mall is 94 percent leased to tenants such as Aeropostale, American Eagle, Forever 21, H&M and Modell’s. Macy’s, Macy’s Mens, Sears, Kohl’s, JC Penney, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Walmart anchor the mall. The mall was renovated and expanded in 2007, and the mall’s annual sales production exceeds $520 per square foot.

    Macerich is acquiring the mall from a subsidiary of Vornado Realty Trust for $500 million, and is expecting to close the transaction in the first quarter of 2013. Similar to the Kings Plaza transaction, Macerich will place secured debt on the mall and the balance will be funded from cash on hand or the company’s line of credit.

    “This allows us to build on our New York portfolio and will be an excellent complement to Queens Center,” says Coppola. Macerich owns Queens Center, the largest mall in Queens. “At Kings Plaza and Green Acres, there are substantial opportunities to replace lower sales producing tenants with higher productivity tenants, in a manner similar to what we accomplished after we acquired Queens Center.”

    Is Monmouth Mall next?

  45. @Back in the day,
    the pizza place was actually called California Pizza. We would sit on the stools and spin around.

  46. Macerich Completes $500 Million Green Acres Mall Deal
    Valley Stream, N.Y. — The Macerich Co. (NYSE: MAC) has completed its $500 million acquisition of the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, closing a deal that’s been in the works since last October.

    The shopping center owner and manager purchased the property from a subsidiary of New York-based Vornado Realty Trust. Vornado reported net proceeds from the sale were approximately $185 million following its repayment of the existing loan and closing costs.

    The 1.8 million-square-foot Green Acres Mall is located on the border of New York and Nassau County and serves customers in southeast Queens and southwest Nassau County. Anchor tenants include Macy’s, Sears, Kohl’s, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Walmart.

    The super regional mall was renovated and expanded in 2007, and the mall’s annual sales production exceeds $520 per square foot. The mall is 94 percent leased to tenants such as Aeropostale, American Eagle, Forever 21, H&M and Modell’s sporting goods.

    Macerich funded its purchase with a $325 million, fixed-rate loan at an eight-year term, with the rest coming from a mix of cash on hand and Macerich’s existing line of credit.

    After the deal was first announced last year, Macerich CEO and Chairman Arthur Coppola said the transaction is consistent with the company’s strategy of buying high-quality assets in major markets. Simultaneously, the company has been selling its non-core assets and recycling capital.

    Coppola said Green Acres will complement the Queens Center, the largest mall in Queens, which The Macerich Co. acquired in the 1990s. “There are substantial opportunities to replace lower-sales producing tenants with higher-productivity tenants in a manner similar to what we accomplished after we acquired the Queens Center,” he stated in October.

    Macherich, a publicly traded REIT based in Santa Monica, now owns approximately 66 million square feet of gross leasable retail space in its portfolio, which consists primarily of interests in 61 regional shopping centers.

    Macerich’s stock price closed at $59.99 per share Tuesday, up from trading at $52.38 per share

  47. @SEAN, Hopefully, Monmouth Mall will be next!

  48. All this talk of the mall and not one person mentions Green Acres Bowl which was open 24 hours. It was where the Sears is now.

  49. @mallguy, Macerich may yet buy Monmouth Mall with fresh capital.

    Macerich Puts More Than $1 Billion of Assets on the Market
    REIT Rolling Over Assets To Fund New Development
    By Mark Heschmeyer
    February 13, 2013

    With private equity and institutional investors pumping an increasing amount of capital into commercial real estate, REITs are finding the current environment provides a compelling option to raise equity by selling off properties rather than raise debt levels through new offerings in the public markets.

    That is one of the primary drivers behind The Macerich Co.’s decision to put more than $1 billion of its malls on the market.

    During its fourth-quarter conference call, Macerich executives said they had placed 17 malls and one office building on the market. While the firm initially did not intend to sell all of the assets, the REIT said it has received significant interest from prospective buyers, and now plans to sell assets worth between $500 million and $1 billion with a cap rate in the mid-7% range.

    “It’s possible that we can raise a $1 billion of equity from these dispositions,” said Art Coppola, chairman and CEO of Macerich. “We’ve got this development pipeline here that we would prefer to fund with either rollover from asset sales or potentially common equity… We can fund our whole development pipeline doing that, but that would tend to drive our debt levels up. And as I said last quarter: You can never have too much equity, and you can never have too little debt.”

    All of the centers Macerich has put up for sale are classified at levels less than the REIT’s top 30 performers out of its portfolio of 70 centers, according to Normura Research CMBS strategist Lea Overby.

    Four of the properties have CMBS exposure:
    • Chesterfield Town Center – Richmond, VA; WFRBS 2012-C9; $110 million;
    • Valley Mall – Harrisonburg, VA; CMBS: BACM 2006-2; Current Loan Balance: $42.9 million;
    • Great Northern Mall – Clay, NY; BSCMS 2004-PWR3; $36.3 million; and
    • Towne Mall – Elizabethtown, KY; WFRBS 2012-C10; $23.4 million.

    “We started the conversations (with prospective buyers) in late November,” Coppola said. “We had a broker (Eastdil Secured) who exposed 14 assets to the market. We also had another broker expose the three assets we own in the Greater Seattle area to the market. So there are 17 assets that are being exposed on the retail side of the market, and the office complex at Redmond Town Center is also in the market right now.”

    Coppola said the REIT did not intend to sell all 17 assets, but rather to offer a sampling on a limited time offer. “And that’s what we did,” he added.

    Macerich has received a significant amount of interest in the properties, Coppola said. Half a dozen groups are bidding on the 14 assets with some groups bidding on more than one.

    “We are at that point to where we are picking buyers on the 14 (assets). The Seattle group is about a month behind and we’ll see,” Coppola said. “I think that certainly by three months from now we will have great clarity on all of those events.”

  50. @mallguy,

    Regional Mall REITs Face Limited Growth Opportunities in 2013
    Feb 28, 2013 1:05 PM, By Elaine Misonzhnik, Senior Associate Editor

    Reports that Macerich Co. might be about to sell four of its least profitable malls to Starwood Retail Properties can be viewed as an indicator that conditions in the regional mall REIT sector will maintain the status quo in 2013. There will be few opportunities for acquisitions or development of new properties, and redevelopment will continue to be the main avenue for growth in the regional mall space, according to analysts who track the sector.

    On the positive side, occupancies and tenant sales should remain strong and rents are expected to rise. At the end of the fourth quarter, the national vacancy rate for regional malls averaged only 8.6 percent, according to New York-based research firm Reis Inc. But over the course of 2012 asking rents rose by just 1 percent, to $39.31 per sq. ft.

    Going forward, that means regional mall REITs will likely have an opportunity to raise their rents, especially given that retailers seem to be in an expansion mode, says Todd Sullivan, a Massachusetts-based investor and author of the blog Value Plays. On the flip side, it also means there will be few motivated sellers of high-grade mall properties, he points out.

    In fact, record low cost of capital would make financing new acquisitions easy for firms looking to grow their portfolios, according to Jason Lail, manager of the real estate research group at SNL Financial, a Charlottesville, Va.-based research firm. Nevertheless, from hearing regional mall REIT executives outline their plans for 2013 he expects most of them won’t pick up a lot of new properties.

    “A lot of the [mall REITs] are already operating at high occupancy levels, so I think rent growth will be an obvious area” for expansion,” says Bob McMillan, industry analyst with S&P Capital IQ. “And that in a nutshell, is it.”

    Small playing field

    In fact, Taubman Centers Inc. will probably be the only regional mall REIT to invest in new mall projects domestically in the next few years, according to Cedrik Lachance, managing director with Green Street Advisors, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based independent research and consulting firm. For example, in September, Taubman and partner New Century Development broke ground for the 650,000-sq.-ft. Mall of San Juan in Puerto Rico. Last March, Taubman also opened the country’s first new mall since the beginning of the downturn, in Salt Lake City.

    “It just so happens that they have developments that are more feasible in the near term [because of] their location,” Lachance says.

    Some of the regional mall players might be able to grow this year through redevelopment and expansion of existing centers, or forays into outlet center development, according to Rich Moore, a REIT analyst with RBC Markets. But given the massive scale of some of the sector’s players, proceeds from redevelopment might feel like a drop in an ocean.

    “You can’t really build anything new unless you are building outlet centers and as far as acquisitions go, most of the stuff that comes to market is weaker or located in secondary markets,” Moore says. “As a matter of fact, [regional mall REITs] are probably going to shed assets, which is dilutive.”

    For example, Simon Property Group’s growth initiatives in 2013 will include the construction of five Premium Outlets centers, only two of which will be located in the U.S., and 24 redevelopment projects domestically. During the company’s earnings call on Feb. 4, Simon executives did not discuss any new regional mall developments stateside.

    Meanwhile, during General Growth Properties’ fourth quarter earnings call on Feb. 5, CEO Sandeep Mathrani outlined the REIT’s growth strategy in the following terms: “leasing vacant space on a permanent long-term basis, renewing leases at rent levels ahead of expiring rents, generating income from our redevelopments, tightly managing and controlling our operating expenses and overhead, and reducing the costs when applicable to our debt. Of these growth sources, each is contributing significantly to the 2013 earnings with the exception of our redevelopments, which will just start to impact our bottom line toward the end of this year.”

    Mathrani also indicated that after a round of dispositions in 2012, he considers GGP’s portfolio to be about the perfect size at roughly 125 malls, which means there likely won’t be any aggressive chasing of assets for the sake of acquisition itself.

    “We view acquisitions [for the mall REIT sector] as kind of hit or miss and unpredictable,” says Todd Lukasik, a REIT analyst with Chicago-based research firm Morningstar. “If something comes on the market, you’ll see all the top players look at it, but it’s a question of whether or not product comes on the market.”

  51. Vornado Disposition Plan Progressing Well, but Retailer Stakes Have Been Hard to Sell
    Elaine Misonzhnik
    Thu, 2013-04-18 13:20

    While Vornado Realty Trust has proved quite successful in disposing of its retail properties, the REIT continues to see negative impact from its investments in non-traditional assets, in particular its stakes in struggling chains J.C. Penney and Toys ‘R’ Us.

    Last April, Vornado Chairman Steven Roth announced the firm would simplify its property portfolio by selling off enclosed regional malls, non-strategic and non-core strip centers and its share of Toys ‘R’ Us. At the time, Vornado’s retail assets included 137 centers totaling 24.5 million sq. ft. Its investments in J.C. Penney and Toys ‘R’ Us, plus its stakes in Alexander’s and Lexington Realty Trust REITs and its mezzanine and mortgage debt securities holdings totaled approximately $3 billion, according to research by Morningstar.

    As of year-end 2012, Vornado has been able to shrink its retail portfolio 120 properties totaling 20.8 million sq. ft., including 114 strip centers and single tenant buildings and six regional malls.

    “In our view, Vornado has made great strides toward simplifying the company, although much work remains, including decisions regarding other non-core investments such as Toys ‘R’ Us and LNR,” wrote Barclays REIT analyst Ross L. Smotrich in an Apr. 5 note.

    The industry should expect to see Vornado’s portfolio reduced further in 2013. In his annual report to shareholders, Roth indicated that he views prices in the REIT’s core markets as too high. With loan to value ratios on acquisition financing now reaching up to 90 percent, he “can see the bubble on the horizon.”

    “Our basic instinct is to build, acquire and grow,” Roth wrote. “But, my belly tells me that prices are now higher than future prospects and therefore, we will buy carefully and likely sell more than we buy.”

    Gone and done
    Just this week, Vornado finalized the sale of The Plant, a power center in San Jose, Calif., for $203 million and the sale of a portion of Philadelphia’s Gallery at Market East for $60 million.

    In March, the REIT also moved to sell 40 percent, or 10 million, of its JCP shares, after the department store chain reported double-digit same-store sales declines for the fourth quarter. But while Vornado paid $25 to $30 per share when it purchased the stock, it had to sell at a discount of nearly 50 percent. The shares reportedly traded at $16.40 apiece. Even with the loss, analysts at Fitch Ratings viewed the disposition as a net positive.

    “We believe the willingness to dispose of the shares and crystallize a sizable loss is more meaningful than the impact of the metrics [themselves]; it is indicative of a true commitment to strategy simplification,” wrote Fitch’s Britton Costa and Kellie Geressy-Nilsen in a March 6 note.

    The share sale reduced Vornado’s stake in JCP to 6.1 percent.

    Last year, Vornado also sold its Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, N.Y., to The Macerich Co. for $500 million, while its affiliate Alexander’s sold the Kings Plaza Mall in Brooklyn, N.Y. to the same buyer for $751 million. Vornado also disposed of most of its Mart assets.

    With a Toys ‘R’ Us IPO now off the table, however, Vornado is stuck holding its 32.6 percent stake in the retailer for an indefinite period of time.

    Still, “although Vornado’s JCP investment hasn’t panned out for the firm to date, we estimate that its non-traditional investments include both winners and losers and have done reasonably well on average over the years,” wrote Morningstar analyst Todd Lukasik in a recent note.

  52. yep! i worked there as a hostess for a very very brief time…the owner cooky and his over-dressed wife were snobs like their ugly offspring!! i was the hostess dealing with a seniority bitch waitress named helen who hated another waitress named gisela!! the mall the area and the restaurant really went down when i was a kid in the early 80’s..the restaurant did have roaches!! i quit because of all the aggravation. it became a dumo called chi-chi’s before being demolished, yet my dad and mom came here in 1970’71/72/73..the place was beautiful..immaculate like the green acres mall.once was..:(

  53. @Joan, my mom loved kleins..the stores when my parents moved out to l.i. were alot alot better!! there was franklin simon..gimbels..newberrys..s. klein..susan ives (a bunch of catty jealous ugly bitches!) my aunt worked there!! the stores now, outside of macy ‘s are geared to the lower class/lower income folks in that area…do not like it and to be honest i NEVER go there alone!! my mom said you walk at night from the mall to the the GREEN ACRES BOWL at one time..would never do that today..:(

  54. @Back in the day, when i worked there as a hostess we saw plenty of bugs…and mice!!! ..owner’s wife was a phony more plastic facelifts than zsa zsa!! her kids were all ugly and acted like they were better than anyone else!!! helen the bitch fought with gisela…all the time! manager john was a wussy~~~ another waitress marilyn stein called me up and cursed me out!! laughed at her..but reported her to the manager…one day some pals of mine ate there…and gave her…hell!! in the early 70’s the place used to be really nice..ultra classy clientele..folks dressed up…by the mid-80’s it was the people in the mall!….sad!

  55. Macerich plans a major expansion at Green Acres

    Green Acres Mall owner plans new facade, expansion
    By LISA DU

    The Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream could have a new facade and expanded retail space in the near future as part of renovations planned for the shopping complex by its owner, Macerich Co.

    Macerich, based in Santa Monica, California, is considering replacing the Sunrise Multiplex Cinemas, a building adjacent to the mall that the company bought last year, with more stores, said Amaka Oweazim, marketing manager for Green Acres. In addition, the mall will undergo reconstruction on its south side to build a facade with multiple shop fronts.

    “Right now, the mall has a boxy look to it,” Oweazim said. “We’re looking at stores that will come in and do their own front entrance.”

    Macerich bought Green Acres in late 2012 for $500 million from Manhattan-based Vornado Realty Trust, which was shrinking its portfolio of malls. Macerich then purchased the movie theater in April 2013 for $22.5 million, according to property records.

    Oweazim said the mall will let the theater, which is run by Dedham, Mass.-based National Amusements Inc., remain for the rest of its lease, and then it will be reconstructed for retail space. She declined to give a time line or specify when the theater would close. National Amusements did not return requests for comment.

    Macerich may also seek local tax breaks for the Green Acres redevelopment. Fred Parola, executive director of the Hempstead Industrial Development Agency, said he has had preliminary meetings with the company about its plans to revamp the property.

    Macerich would have to qualify Green Acres as a tourist destination — meaning that it draws 51 percent or more of its visitors from outside Nassau County — to apply for tax breaks, because the Hempstead IDA does not give tax assistance to retail projects, Parola said. He added that Macerich was interested in a property tax abatement and sales tax exemption.

    “I think this group . . . wants to put in a lot of upscale type of properties,” Parola said. “I feel like they’re on the right track, they seem to know their business, their plans seems to be viable.”

    Here is the link to the mall’s leasing brochure detailing the planned expansion and upscaling of the mall.

  56. @homan, I can tell you a good percentage of Green Acres shoppers do come from Queens, but I seriously dout it’s over 51%.

    I can understand why Maceerich wants to move the mall upmarket, but GA’s on the south shore & only the “five towns” area has that kind of income & it’s not enough people to maintain those types of retailers. This move by Macerich is reflexive do to the adition of Neiman Marcus at Roosevelt Field a few miles to the northeast.

    As for the cinema, I wonder if a new one will be built in that area since the nearest ones are in Lynbrook & downtown Jamaica Queens.

  57. @SEAN, The 51% figure came from the NewsDay article. Maybe I should have copied the article better. Everything in my post came from the article from the NewsDay link.

    Also I do believe they will rebuilt the cinema in the new expansion /old Sunrise Cinema area. Look at the leasing brochure on page 7 and see the rendering for the expansion area. It looks like Macerich will build a new mega cinema on a upper level. The new expansion will be called Green Acres Plaza.

    I am very excited for all the changes that Macerich is doing at both Green Acres and Kings Plaza. Based on the lease brochures, Macerich is planning a lot of changes.

  58. @SEAN,
    Also I forgot to add rereading the News Day article, it stated that in order for Macerich to get new tax breaks, the mall needs to have more than 51% of its visitors outside Nassau County.
    Here is the quote,

    “Macerich would have to qualify Green Acres as a tourist destination — meaning that it draws 51 percent or more of its visitors from outside Nassau County — to apply for tax breaks, because the Hempstead IDA does not give tax assistance to retail projects, Parola said. He added that Macerich was interested in a property tax abatement and sales tax exemption. “

  59. @homan, Oh I know, but I doubt 51% or more of the shoppers come from outside Nassau County.

    Unfortunately I’m visually challenged, so seeing the leasing plans is quite difficult. Good to see that the cinema will be replaced since that was one of the earliest multiplexes that National Amusements had built. I want to say it opened somewhere around 1987ish?

    As a footnote – while Macerich does it’s work on Green Acres, rumors are circulating that Simon might be on the verge of making a play for Macerich. If such a deal is in the works, Macerich should take offer & run as mall real estate remains extremely hot right now.

  60. Of course that should have read, take the offer & run .

  61. @homan,
    Here is a update on Green Acres Expansion,
    Century 21 is going open in the mall new expansion area. The The new expansion will be called Green Acres Commons. The whole expansion will cost $163 million
    Here is links in the NewsDay articles,
    2nd article,

  62. @Homan, If Macerich is trying to “upscale” Green Acres as noted in previous reports, bringing in an off price fashon retailer like C 21 isn’t the way to go. Then again – That area along the south shore would be well served by C 21 & stores like it. The real high end retailers are at Roosevelt Field & along the north shore in such areas as Manhasset & Great Neck.

    Did you read the comments from both stories? My god – several of them were so derogatory, I was in disbelief that they weren’t removed. Perhaps I shouldn’t be shocked since almost every news site I visit is loaded with comments from such clowns like these.

  63. @mallguy, Toadbeast here I agree with you on the new renovation especially the Macy’s store. It looks like the contractor just slapped it on the wall There’s no architecture! No pizazz!

  64. News from Roosevelt Field – the renovations continue. The flooring is almost done except for the concourse level witch hasn’t started yet. In a recent newsletter I read yesterday several projects are underway or will be beginning in the next few weeks. these projects include…

    Façade improvements on the west side of the building
    garage renovations & painting
    new glass elevators
    a new play area on the concourse level
    restroom renovations on the upper level
    the opening of the Neiman Marcus wing in September
    a renovated AMC theatre

  65. i will never forget that in the 70’s the stores were much trendier..cleaner and upscale!!!! i worked at susan ives..the catty jealous bitch sandy lied to management and got me fired!!! sandy fat and ugly went to staten island..the bitch ugly manager ms. weber dropped from sight..stacen the scary-looking jap quit..and who could forget stella russo?? omg!! they all looked and acted like creatures from an over-the-hill scare-fest! ..the clothes were nice however..never forgave the fat pock mark photographer sandy (same name–but a guy!) he was in on this thing pretending to take my photo..there probably was’nt even film in the camera! i was a young kid..this guy sandy was bald..fat…pock marked skin..”i need to meet a long as she’s nice–and looks great in a bikini” YEAH LOSER lower your standards!! i was glad to get out!! i called the store regional manager and gave them an earful!!! never shopped there…again!

  66. the way…years later i am working at brooks fashion..guess who comes in for a job?? sandy 2 face from staten island!! i admit a bitch!

  67. This mall used to be a great place to hang out back in the day. There used to be an arcade place on the 2nd floor. Right when you walked in from Sears, on your left you had Micro Electronics, Klein Sleep, A sports store, He Man Shops, Price Wise, This End Up and Connie’s. On your right you had Combine Camera (Developed films. Later became 60-Minute Camera), Casual Couch, Electronics Boutique, and Bagel Works. The place where they sold smoothies around the stairs around 2000 used to be a key place called Total Security. Wicks and Sticks and Air Sensations were at the border of the food court. The food court used to have this old couple who used to sell delicious home made dishes and a Roy Roger’s. The only restaurants which haven’t changed in the mall are the Cheese Steak place, Friendly’s and McDonalds. I remember those stores very vividly since we always entered the mall through Sears. There was also a B Dalton Booksellers, Tape World, Record World, Sam Goody’s, and Walden Books. Downstairs, the elevator had a great fountain around it, and this place in the middle of the wing across from it from which I always bought my leather belts and belt buckles. Later it got the Suncoast Video. At its peak, it had the Disney Store. Of course, you can’t forget Woolworth’s and the hot dog place next to it. Next to Woolworth’s was a little place which put your picture (Made out of ASCII characters because of the technology of the time) on t-shirts and gift items. The parking lot had a little Siemen’s showroom from which you bought things by a written order and Target used to be Alexander’s department store. This was a fun and beautiful place to be full of memories. But then in the mid 90’s the place went downhill pretty fast. All of the great stores were long gone by then and the new stores fit the extreme bad condition it got into.

  68. @InMyCornerOfTheWorld, was Len’s or Lenny’s the name of that Jewish restaurant inside the mall? I remember the Sam Goodys record shop I think it was where we’d run to get new Lp’s from the Beatles, the Stones or the Doors…lol.
    Do you remember the restaurant they built kind of in front closer to the drive in that looked like a castle and what it was called had cool armored suits inside?

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