A Shoppers Dream: The Mall at Bay Plaza

By Sage Hunter

Sasha Ramirez, a University of Miami graduate and self-proclaimed “shopaholic”, is waiting for the new mall that will soon open near Co-op City, where she lives with her parents.

“I’m actually kind of excited for this, I’m really hoping they have a Forever 21,” said 22 year-old Ramirez, who lives in Section 4 of the cooperative housing complex.

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A sign of what’s taking place at the construction site for The Mall at Bay Plaza.
(Photo by Sage Hunter)

Ramirez is one of many residents of Co-op City anticipating the first enclosed fashion mall in New York City in almost forty years. Previously an empty lot, the Bay Plaza Shopping Center is already the largest shopping mall in New York City, home to a multiplex movie theatre, office spaces, a fitness center, several restaurants, and, soon, The Mall at Bay Plaza, coming in 2014.

According tothe official site of The Mall at Bay Plaza, Prestige Properties originally built the Bay Plaza Shopping Center in 1988, and it was continuously expanded and improved over time. This shopping center has been thriving for almost 25 years now.

The Mall at Bay Plaza is a 780,000 square-foot structure in Co-op City’s existing Bay Plaza Shopping Center. When completed, The Mall will hold a 1,800-car parking garage with 780,000 square-foot of retail space, the website explains.

The Mall at Bay Plaza will appeal to the needs of a diverse consumer base, coming from Westchester as well as the Bronx. While many anticipate this new shopping center, others also question if the mall will cause more traffic and commotion. Residents also wonder whether more public transportation will be put into place for shoppers.

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JCPenny’s sign telling shoppers where to enter while construction goes on.
(Photo by Sage Hunter)

The existing 150,000 square-foot JCPenney at the Bay Plaza Shopping Center will be attached to the new mall, and a new Macy’s department store will also open on the premises.

“We had been interested in the site for years, but with the economy now stabilizing, we are now able to invest in new stores,” Macy’sRegional Director Randy Scalise said in a press release.  “The new location allows us to infill our store count in the region and makes a lot of sense for us. There is not a lot of mall development in the U.S right now and the New York metro area is good market to be in.”

Local residents seem to agree.

“Moving from Bedford Park to Co-op city was a change for me but I felt Co-op city was an up and coming neighborhood to live in,” said 37 year-old Christina Rodriguez, who has lived in the Bronx her entire life, and now lives in the Earhart Lane section of Co-op City.

“They added Red Lobster, and now Dallas BBQ, so Bay Plaza is going to be a really nice place to shop and get a quick bite after,” Rodriguez added.

While Rodriguez will be enjoying the several restaurants Bay Plaza Shopping Center has to offer, she also hopes more public transportation will be added for shoppers like her who do not have a car.

For about 55,000 residents of Co-op City, there’s more shopping in the neighborhood than ever, but the existing Bay Plaza Shopping Center has created traffic for people entering and leaving the high-rise community. With the development of the new mall, residents are worried that congestion will get worse.

“There’s always traffic in Bay Plaza, always,” Rodriguez said, and added that she fears things will get worse when the mall is completed.  “The traffic will get worse most likely,” she said.

In an interview, Kenneth Kearns, district manager of Community Board 10, which serves the communities of City Island, Co-op City, Country Club, and Eastchester Bay, talked about measures taken to prevent congestion.

“A second ramp will be added at exit 12 at Bartow Ave. to alleviate the traffic situation from the highway,” he said.

“This added piece is in progress now so it should be finished soon,” he added when asked how long this additional installment would take.

“More buses will be added from the 6 train at Pelham Bay Park straight to the Bay Plaza Shopping Center,” Kearns also said.

The Mall at Bay Plaza

A design of how The Mall at Bay Plaza will look like from the Hutchinson River Parkway when completed in 2014.
(Photo by mallatbayplaza.com)

This new, structure which is being built by Los Angeles-based architectural firm Altoon & Porter Architects, will be located at the intersection of the Hutchinson River Parkway and I-95, were about 250,000 cars pass every day combined, according to the NYCroads.com.

Jerry Welkis, who is the president of the New Rochelle headquarters at Welco Realty Inc., whose partners with Prestige Properties, is the leading forces on behalf of Prestige.

“We’re bringing in major name brand and designer stores, ranging from fashion, accessories and home furnishings to restaurants,” said Jerry Welkis in a press release. He continued by saying, “retailers are buzzing about The Mall at Bay Plaza, and Prestige is giving them something worth talking about. In my opinion, this is THE project for 2014.”

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