The long-anticipated Mall at Bay Plaza will be opening to the public on Thursday, August 14.
Prestige Properties and Development Co., the owner and developer of the mall, will host a grand opening ceremony at 9:30 a.m. at the entrance to the mall. When the ribbon is cut at 10 a.m., the mall will open to the public.
Sam Shalem, chairman and CEO of Prestige Properties, said he thinks that Bronxites’ expectations of the mall will be exceeded in terms of design and store offerings.
“I think they will be shocked,” he said. “It’s really spectacular.”
It took more than two years and $300 million to complete the major addition to the Bay Plaza Shopping Center, originally built in 1988 by Prestige Properties.
“We appreciate the support of the community over the years, and I think they’ll be very happy,” said Shalem.
Community Board 10 district manager Ken Kearns said the board is looking forward to the opening of the mall, and that one of the benefits is that it will give local residents access to different goods and services. “We are excited to see the quality stores being located in the mall,” said Kearns.
The mall, anchored by a new Macy’s and an existing JC Penney, will feature a wide range of national retailers, said Shalem, many of which are opening in the Bronx for the first time. Mall tenants include H&M, Michael Kors, Forever 21, Ulta, Kay Jewelers, Victoria’s Secret, Gap, and American Eagle, among others.
“The Bronx doesn’t have these stores, so people from the area go to Westchester or Manhattan to spend their money,” said Shalem, adding that now that money will stay in the Bronx.
“This area needed something like this, there was a hunger for it,” he said.
At the time of the grand opening, 71 percent of the mall will be open for business, said Shalem, with more stores opening in the coming weeks. He said the mall will be 87 percent occupied by the end of year, and he expects it to be completely occupied by summer 2015.
These nsew stores, along with four restaurants and a food court will create more than 1,700 jobs, said Shalem, and many of these employees have already been hired.
“We are very happy with the expected economic benefits associated with the mall, namely employment,” said Kearns.
Kearns said the only concern the community board has about the mall is with increased traffic in the area. An increase of cars entering the shopping center will be accommodated by the widened exit ramp off I-95, said Kearns, but board members are worried that exiting traffic could affect Co-op City residents.
Shalem said that during construction, three exits were added to the shopping center to alleviate congestion.
“I can not tell you there will be no traffic, but we did everything in our power,” said Shalem.
Kearns said the board will continue to work with the mall on traffic solutions as problems arise. And despite those concerns, Kearns said the board is glad to welcome the new mall into the community.
“It’s an exciting time to be in the Northeast Bronx,” he said.