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Future of malls could include residential development, execs say

From left, Joshua Weinkranz, president, NE Region Kimco

From left, Joshua Weinkranz, president, NE Region Kimco Realty, Stanton Eckstut, principal Perkins Eastman, and Matthew Whalen, senior vice president Avalon Bay on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, in Old Westbury. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Malls and shopping centers beleaguered by dwindling foot traffic could look “tremendously different” in 10 years, incorporating residential and other uses, a real estate executive said Tuesday.

Joshua Weinkranz, Northeast region president at New Hyde Park-based Kimco Realty Corp., which owns more than 500 shopping centers including 30 on Long Island, said some brick-and-mortar operations like Walmart are finding ways to incorporate online offerings into their physical store locations, allowing them “to stay relevant” amid competition from e-commerce companies like Amazon.

Others, especially traditional department stores like Macy’s and JCPenney, are struggling in their efforts to only “compete on price,” he said. “The better locations might remain, but there’s a lot of ‘B locations’ out there that are just not going to survive.”

In those instances, Weinkranz said, looking at residential redevelopment opportunities with a mix of retail, office and other uses might be the smarter move.

His remarks came during a panel discussion organized by the Long Island Real Estate Group.

Panelist Matthew Whalen, senior vice president at national multi-family developer AvalonBay Communities, suggested that certain mall properties, such as Roosevelt Field, Smith Haven Mall or the Walt Whitman Shops, could benefit from looking at mixed-use residential projects at their sites.

“I just look at those assets as places that I would be interested in investing money to have people live there,” Whalen said. He said AvalonBay is talking with national mall owners such as Simon Property Group, Taubman Centers and Westfield Corp. about potential partnerships in projects in the future.

Weinkranz said that on Long Island, Kimco’s Airport Plaza is one location where the company has been looking to add residential components.

“It really does have all the building blocks necessary for a phenomenal mixed-use development on Long Island,” Weinkranz said. “It’s a great asset now. The retail does great. But it can be so much more.”

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