Shops At Nanuet

The Changing Complexion of a Mall: Discount Tenants Fill Vacancies At Struggling Shops At Nanuet

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Simon Group Signs Leases With Discount Fashion Sellers, Cell Phone Fixers, Mom-and-Pop Foodie Vendors


It’s been just a little more than a decade since Simon Properties debuted an outdoor mall that showcased high-end  fashion brands like Michael Kors, Coach, Victoria’s Secret, White House/Black Market, Jos. A Banks, and an Apple store at the Shops at Nanuet.  Ribbon cuttings and grand openings in 2013 celebrated the conversion from the original enclosed tired mall, built in the 1960s on wetlands, to an open-air lifestyle upscale brand-driven center at Fashion Drive. It aimed to shoot higher than its predecessor, and to create an alternative shopping environment to The Palisades Center.

But the test of time, a changing economy, internet shopping, a global pandemic, and perhaps misjudgment as to what would be sustainable in the Route 59 corridor, has led to noticeable changes in the tenant mix at the Shops of Nanuet. Over the past year or so, more mom-and-pop retailers, as well as fast fashion, discount retailers, a children’s bounce house, cell phone repair and service stores, and other off-brand enterprises, are filling long-empty spaces and changing the character of the former fashion-forward mall.

Vacancies and loss of national high-end retailers have hurt the lifestyle center’s bottom line and Simon is seeking millions of dollars in relief in Rockland County Supreme Court from what it has called “excessive property tax assessments” imposed by the Town of Clarkstown.

Additionally — though not part of the Simon Group — the former Macy’s site next door which attracted the Texas retailer At Home for its first floor a couple of years ago, now has a self-storage company occupying the entire 116,000 square feet on the second floor. The storage tenant was permitted to occupy the space because of a recent zoning change in the Town of Clarkstown’s MRS (Major Regional Shopping) Zone.

Joseph A. Farkas, CEO of Metropolitan Realty Associates LLC, said the former Macy’s site is now fully occupied with At Home, a discount home decor retailer, and Storage King USA at 7201 Fashion Drive, which has 157 locations in eighteen states, including a location in Staten Island and several in New Jersey.

Storage facilities have been proliferating in Clarkstown and Rockland County; while they typically generate less vehicular traffic than retail, they also blunt a shopping center’s ability to use its space to attract foot traffic.  In 2021, the Town of Clarkstown updated the zoning in the MRS (Major Regional Shopping) zones to accommodate mini-warehouses (self-storage units) in its prime retail corridors.

Farkas, who is planning to site a Popeye’s Restaurant on a pad site, said the restaurant has already signed a ground lease.

“We’re balancing our tenant mix,” said Farkas. “That’s what we’re expert at doing.”

Popeye’s has filed an application before the Clarkstown Planning Board for the construction of a 2,536 square foot, single-story, free-standing fast-food restaurant with two drive-thru lanes. The restaurant will be located in the parking lot at the Shops At Nanuet, near the At Home home furnishing store, and behind the TD Bank at 200 Nanuet Mall South.

Here is a rundown of some recent changes at the Shops at Nanuet.

The most notable shift at the retail site is the tenant at the former Sears Department Store. The Depot House furniture is a low-end discounter. Some five months ago, it partitioned its space and opened Smart Deals, a low-lit deep-discounted general merchandise mart with racks of clothing, shoes, furniture, and a hodge-podge of items arranged in a flea-market format.

Opening this Friday is Robin’s Creamery, a soft serve Matcha and Taro ice cream, Bubble tea, Milk tea, Fruit tea, Gelato, Mochi and Macarons boutique. This is the owner’s first Robin’s Creamery; he told RCBJ he’s planning another location in Miami.

Also recently added tenant is Bouncy House Magic, at 6127 Fashion Drive , which has inflatable bounce castles, inflatable slides, obstacle courses, and hosts birthday parties and other events. It has a location in the Palisades Center.

LA7, a tenant at six Simon mall properties, recently left The Palisades Center for Shops At Nanuet, an indication that Simon continues to go off-brand from its original vision of high-end fashion. The chain sells affordable women’s clothing; this week there was a sign in the window that said: “Everything $8.99 Or Less, Entire Store.” LA7 ONLINE operates more than 170 brick-and-mortar locations nationwide.

EZ Fix, a cellphone repair and accessory seller more commonly found at a sprawling mall or in kiosks, opened its fourth outpost at the Shops. It has locations in Nyack, the Bronx, and a Dulles Airport, according to its website. A sidewalk banner reads, “Cell Phone Repair, All Makes, All Models”.

Finally, the Costway store – discount home merchandise, previously scheduled to open at the Shops, still has not arrived.

Simon Seeks Property Tax Relief

In court filings, Michael Larson, Vice-President for Property Tax and Credits & Incentives for the Simon Property Group, demonstrated that revenues and net income from the Shops At Nanuet have fallen each year from 2018 through 2022, most significantly in 2020 (during the COVID-19 pandemic) and have never recovered. Revenue from 2018 to 2022 fell about 25 percent; net income fell in the same period about 70 percent. Despite annual requests to re-adjust its assessment, the town maintained the same assessment each year, regardless of economic realities on the ground.

The case is pending before Justice Christie D’Allesio with a hearing on the matter set for May 1st.

A similar, but much larger trial is already underway in Rockland County Supreme Court brought by the owners of the Palisades Center which alleges that it is owed up to $50 million in tax refunds based on a pattern of overassessments by the Town of Clarkstown.

New Tenants Fill Vacancies

Despite the loss of prestige tenants and the decline in its fortunes, in the past year, several new tenants have opened at The Shops. Buffalo Wild Wings relocated from the Palisades Center, replacing the former Zinburger tenant. The Atlanta, Georgia-based chain is an American casual dining restaurant and sports bar franchise more than 1,279 locations in the U.S., including locations in White Plains, New Rochelle, and the Bronx.

Sombrero Tacoria and Roast’d Coffee, which opened in the location that Starbucks vacated, are both small New Jersey chains that are expanding over the New York border in Rockland County. Sombrero Tacoria, a family business that started as a food truck, has locations in Totowa, Clifton, and Ridgewood. Similarly, Roast’d Coffee is founded by a group of partners who’ve sited locations in Hasbrouck Heights, Ft. Lee and most recently Franklin Lakes.

Saba Rugs & Flooring, an independently owned rug store,  opened and is faring well. It was a former tenant Nanuet Mall until 2011 and had operated for three years in Yorktown Heights.

Fidelity Investments replaced the long-vacant Bonefish Grill. The Shops at Nanuet is Fidelity’s first Rockland County location.