Just over a year ago, I reported on the history and future plans of Sunrise Mall in Massapequa. At the time, the mall was winding down operations in its current state and looking to the future. A year later, the powers that be are doing their due diligence and going through the options in front of them. Having already stated that the property will remain a retail project, owners Urban Properties have many opportunities available to them. With one of the few large tracts of property available in Nassau County, it truly is a blank canvas waiting to be developed.
The key to the development going forward will be thinking outside the box and bringing first to market concepts on board. How much more of the same old, same old do we need? Part of retail problems today are redundancies, cookie-cutter properties that just blend in and don’t give shoppers a fresh choice. Now is the time to stand out and keep in mind, Long Island with its population and large per capita income, is still highly desired by retailers looking to expand.
With that in mind, let’s break down the options best suited for a successful Sunrise 2.0: The layout will be important, going with a variation of the outdoor lifestyle center is probably the best bet. With Macy’s already in place, you can build around that structure and then have clusters of other stores and restaurants spaced out throughout the property. Aesthetically pleasing and functional as well, this leaves room for development of the pad sites on the outside of the center. With the development of Belmont Parks’ retail village and the redevelopment of Broadway Commons, competition is going to be fierce. The days of building concrete canyons are over. Greenery, walkways, and room to roam are now in.
Keeping in mind, the idea of first-to-market type stores to balance things out can transform this version of Sunrise Mall into a destination location and give shoppers a reason to visit. Go big or go home. How about a Bass Pro Shop or Cabela’s store here? Long Island is surrounded by water and is a fishing mecca, meaning one of the aforementioned outdoor recreation stores would do tremendous business here. Currently the closest Bass Pro Shop is on Interstate 95 in Bridgeport, CT. It was not too long ago when Bass wanted to build a location at the old Nassau Coliseum project that never materialized. So obviously Long Island is on their radar.
Other retail options include a pair of department stores, Belk and Boscov’s, both of which are mid-market type stores and rumor has it that both chains are looking to expand deeper into the Northeast. In the case of Boscov’s, they are a landlord’s delight because of their integrity and drawing power at existing shopping centers where they are currently located. It was the landlords who went to bat for them during the 2008 recession.
Other retail options can include, Dick’s House of Sport. This is the latest concept from the chain and it’s basically a gym on steroids, with fields, courts and activities highlighting the property. It would also be a great magnet for local youth and athletic leagues to utilize, thus driving more traffic to Sunrise 2.0. As we reported here last year. Wegmans is opening their first Long Island location in Lake Grove next summer. You can bet they are already looking at Nassau County for a second local location. With Sunrise straddling the county borders, it’s a prime spot for any big-time retailer looking to open.
One potential long-shot not bound to happen anytime soon but is Menards Home Improvement Centers. It’s so much more than a home center and I strongly suggest looking it up to see why. Headquartered in Eau Claire, WI, they are not inclined to move this far East at the moment.
Sure Chili’s or Maggiano’s Little Italy would be great, but there are other new and popular options that would stand out in a crowded retail market. Freddy’s Steakburgers is a smash all over the country and are on the brink of entering the New York Metro area. Other restaurants worth noting are Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, a home-style restaurant based in Irving, TX, and Mission BBQ, which not only offers highly recommended BBQ options, but also has ties to supporting the police, firefighters, veterans, and first responders. Other options include Maggie McFly’s, which is a local craft eatery/bar and the resurgent Krispy Kreme, which is back and looking to expand locally. Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, which has an Astor Place location, is in the process of looking to expand onto Long Island as well.
As for entertainment concepts, at the top of the list should be an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. It’s been a hot trend nationally for almost a decade and already has a New York City footprint with locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island. It’s about time Long Island entered the fray. Unlike the old multiplexes of yesteryear, these new experiences have it all, superior movie/sound quality, restaurants, plush seating and overall comfort for an enjoyable night out.
Sunrise 2.0 you are on the clock and the time is now. Whatever you decide will determine the fate of both ownership and the local community for decades to come. The anticipation to see the next act in this play is high and it’s only a matter of time before the curtain goes up.