Locals Will Preview
With the Queens Center Mall expansion nearing its completion, mall officials said there will be a big public preview during the last weekend in March. "We are having a major party on March 26 (Friday), March 27 (Saturday) and March 28 (Sunday) and you’re all invited," Dawn Simon told Community Board 4 at the board’s February meeting in Corona.
The preview will feature a ribbon cutting ceremony on March 27 as well as all-day events and activities throughout the weekend, including fashion shows, entertainment and a $5,000 shopping spree give-away. "There will be a major media campaign," Simon, marketing manager at Queen Center Mall, said.
Last September, 150 hopefuls auditioned to be one of 12 Queens residents to be featured in the advertising campaign, which will be called, "Grow With Us." Placed at bus stops and atop taxis, the ads will hail the mall’s opening and represent the diversity of Queens.
In addition to the celebration, a new food court and up to 50 new stores will open for business with more to follow. Queens Center will ultimately have 175 to 180 retail stores, including a new J.C. Penney and an expanded Macy’s.
Admitting to having concerns before construction began in the summer of 2002 about resulting traffic and noise, General Manager Curt Fickeisen said, "We’ve heard from very few people."
But Board Member Nick Pennachio complained about the lack of any validated parking policy at the mall. "I think it’s very important to have some free parking because people park on [local] streets," said Pennachio, a nearby resident.
"Most inner city or urban malls have paid parking," replied Fickeisen.
"There was a concession to have validated parking," said Board Member Tony Moreno. "We were against the [expansion] project for that reason (parking)," he said, adding that double and triple parking occurs on streets.
Simon said free validated parking offered to shoppers during the holiday season after 8 p.m. had been successful. A new 800-car garage was opened in October. "The [new garage] came in very handy over the holiday season," Fickeisen said.
The 8.625 percent sales tax was exempted from all clothing and footwear on purchases less than $110 during the period Monday through Sunday, January 26 to February 1 and Mayor Michael Bloomberg came to shop at Macy’s in Queens Center Mall on January 27.
From 2000 to 2003, New Yorkers could shop tax free all year. The tax on clothing purchases under $110 was reinstated last year to help with deficits but is slated to expire on May 31. However, Governor George Pataki has proposed four tax-free weeks a year on clothes priced up to $500 instead.
The Queens Center Mall opening comes as the monthly index of consumer confidence rose to its highest level since July 2002 in January. Also increasing was the percentage of people expecting better business conditions and more hiring in the next six months.
"Many merchants will be looking for sales help and managers," said Simon. Queens Center Mall is holding a job fair on February 28 and 29. For more information, visit www.shopqueenscenter.com.