THE BRONX — Discount designer hand bags and other high-end goods could be in the Bronx’s future, as a major real estate group is considering a plan to open an outlet mall on Bruckner Boulevard.
Manhattan-based firm The Lightstone Group purchased a plot of land at 2505 Bruckner Boulevard in May, and is “exploring the options for retail development of the site,” according to spokeswoman Michele de Milly.
The news generated a good deal of local buzz because if the plan comes together, the Bronx would be home to the first outlet mall in the city—a shopping center that offers upscale clothing and goods at discounted prices. Community newspaper The Bronx Times-Reporter first wrote of the deal in June, and Crain’s New York and The New York Times followed suit last week.
“We’re delighted that there’s been such an enthusiastic response,” de Milly said. But she warned that Lightstone is too early in the planning stages to say definitively what they’ll do with the site, which is currently home to a multiplex movie theatre called Whitestone Cinemas.
“The property was bought in May and now we’re in July—we’re talking 60 days here,” de Milly said, adding that it is “an extremely difficult project,” due to circumstances relating to “the economic feasibility and the location of the site.”
Lightstone bought the property for $30 million in May, city property records showed. While de Milly could not confirm that outlets were the ultimate goal for the site, the company owns similar projects. In 2010, Lightstone struck a $2 billion deal to purchase Prime Outlets, acquiring nearly two dozen high-end outlet centers in cities across the country.
Kenneth Kearns, chairman for Bronx Community District 10, where the site is located, said the board first heard of the plan from officials at the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (BOEDC).
“The board recently learned of the possible redevelopment of the Whitestone Cinemas from a movie theatre complex into a Woodbury Commons-style outlet mall,” Kearns said, referring to the popular outlet center in upstate New York, which hosts high-end names like Michael Kors and Lucky Brand, but at a discount.
Kearns said that while the board is excited by the prospect of more shopping in the area, they’re worried about the traffic impact such a development might bring. Two shopping complexes are already being constructed in the area—a Target store in Throgs Neck and a major mall project at Bay Plaza — and Kearns said all the development could jam the local highways.
“While the board applauds the notion of having quality shopping in this environment, we do have concerns about traffic,” he said. “We’re worried about gridlock, traffic, air pollution.”
Kearns said the board has yet to meet directly with Lightstone staff, but that there are plans to do so in the fall. If the project were to materialize, it wouldn’t require community board approval.
Bronx resident Jirayra Peraltz, 19, said she’d be happy to have an outlet mall option here in the city.
“You have to go really far, and pay tolls and everything,” she said, saying she’s made the trek to Woodbury Commons before just to score deals on designer threads. “It’s cheaper and the clothes are better quality—they last longer.”