Nothing makes retailers happier than traffic. That’s why some of the hottest retail locations in Westchester are in western Yonkers, where major highways and parkways virtually funnel shoppers to the doorways of retailers. From the newly refurbished Cross County Shopping Center to Westchester’s Ridge Hill to the store- and strip-mall-packed Central Avenue corridor, big-box retailers, mall operators, and local shopkeepers revel in thousands of consumers thronging the aisles every day.
“Central Avenue continues to be hot,” says Wilson Kimball, Yonkers commissioner of Planning and Development. “Cross County has gone through major renovations and is packed all the time. It’s got great parking and is centrally located. Then there’s Ridge Hill, which has amazing, unique shops that appeal to a different audience.”
The recently completed, $250 million expansion and overhaul of Cross County put a real sparkle in tenants’ eyes. In fact, the million-square-foot center at the 250,000-cars-per-day intersection of I-87 and the Cross County Parkway is basically fully leased, according to Liz Pollack, senior marketing manager of Macerich, which now manages Cross County and oversaw its redevelopment. “We only have two small stores available right now—maybe 8,000 square feet total.” While anchors like Macy’s have expanded along with the Center, dozens of new retail tenants—most aimed directly at the area’s middle-income market—have flocked there in recent months. Among them are Garage, a Canadian clothier that opened in July 2013, and Steve Madden, purveyor of shoes and accessories, which debuted in November. Zara, an upscale Spanish clothier, is scheduled to open 26,000 square feet this spring.
Then there’s Central Avenue, where vacant properties are scarcer than opportunities to make a left-hand turn against traffic. Rick Stassa, executive VP at NAI/Friedland, points out that Central Avenue is a major draw not just for Westchesterites, but for Bronx shoppers as well. “National operators like IHOP and Best Buy love it,” he says. “Tiffany isn’t there, but it’s a good upper-middle-class experience that appeals to a broad group of people. It’s got just about everything a retailer could want.” Lease rates begin around $60 per square foot and a variety of location types, amenities, parking, and signage can accommodate many different retail operations.
Overlooking it all, of course, is Ridge Hill: 1.3 million square feet of upscale retailing, medical offices, restaurants, cinemas, and even a residential community. The $685 million shopping destination is filling nicely, according to Kathryn Welch, executive VP of Forest City Ratner’s retail group. In fact, there is only about 175,000 square feet available for new retail tenants in the center now. “We have a regional draw from all of Westchester, Putnam, and the Bronx,” Welch says, “although our largest customer base is from the Yonkers/Tuckahoe/Bronxville area.” Retailers—many of which are best visited with a platinum card in hand—include Whole Foods, Lord & Taylor, Orvis, Sur La Table, and the squeal-inducing LEGOLAND Discovery Center.