Queens Boulevard and 59th Avenue
New York, New York (Borough of Queens)
The third suburban-type shopping mall in New York City was built on a 5 acre parcel, located 7.9 miles east of Times Square, in the Elmhurst section of Queens. The site housed the Fairyland Amusement Park between 1950 and 1968 and was accessed by the Long Island Expressway (Interstate 495) and New York City Subway's Woodhaven Boulevard / Slattery Plaza station.
Abraham & Straus and Ohrbach's became the first operational tenants, on September 12, 1973. The remainder of the sixty-seven stores and services opened for business during 1974. These included Orange Julius, Herman's World of Sporting Goods, Brentano's Books, David's Cookies and Musicland.
QUEENS CENTER originally encompassed 620,000 leasable square feet on 4 levels, It included a multilevel parking garage that could accommodate 1,450 autos. Serving the compacted millions living in Queens, the mall became one of the most successful in the nation, with astounding sales-per-square-foot statistics. Outlying Long Island shopping centers, such as ROOSEVELT FIELD MALL or GREEN ACRES MALL provided no measurable competition.
Still, by the late 1980s, QUEENS CENTER was in need of a spruce-up. A face lift remodel was done during 1990 and 1991, with a 10-bay Food Court fashioned out of a fourth floor restaurant.
Meanwhile, Ohrbach's had been shuttered in early 1987, with its replacement being an Asbury Park, New Jersey-based Steinbach. This store was replaced by J.C. Penney in 1990. The Abraham & Straus name was retired April 30, 1995. The QUEENS CENTER location was rebranded as a Macy's. This store had moved from a circa-1965, circular structure located one block northwest of QUEENS CENTER.
The year 1995 was also when the Santa Monica-based Macerich Company acquired QUEENS CENTER. In the summer of 2002, they started a 275 million dollar overhaul. The existing Macy's was expanded, to 352,300 square feet, by the construction of a fifth level. This was built on a portion of the mall's rooftop parking deck.
A 4-level structure was built on part of the city block east of the existing complex. It was joined to it via a 2-level concourse extending over 92nd Street. The addition was anchored by a 3-level (204,300 square foot) J.C. Penney. It included a second parking garage and the 14-bay World Fares Cafes food court, which was situated in the basement ("Concourse") level.
The East Wing was officially dedicated March 27, 2004. With the original Penney's now vacant, it was possible to gut its interior and rebuild it as new inline stores. Twenty-seven existing tenants either moved into larger quarters or expanded into adjacent area. Some of the newly-enlarged stores were an (11,500 square foot) Forever 21 and (25,200 square foot) H & M.
Tenants new to QUEENS CENTER included American Eagle Outfitters, Applebee's, Ashley Stewart, Cache', Casual Corner, Champs Sports, Finish Line, Guess?, Kay Jewelers, New York & Company, Petite Sophistocate and Wilson's Leather.
The common areas of the original mall were also given a face lift, with escalators replaced and a large skylight installed in its Atrium. With the official dedication of the completed project, on November 19, 2004, QUEENS CENTER encompassed 963,000 leasable square feet. The retail roster listed one hundred and fifty stores and services.
The New York Times
http://www.qchron.com (The Queens Chronicle)
http://www.timesledger.com (The Times Ledger)
"Queens Center" article on Wikipedia