Roosevelt Field mall offered a sneak peek Wednesday at the progress of a $200 million face-lift that will add dozens of new retailers, including Long Island's first Neiman Marcus.
The Garden City mall will house the luxury department store in a two-level, 100,000- square-foot building that is expected to open in February 2016. More than 250 surface parking spots were removed to make room for the new anchor store, which has yet to be built and is currently just a large patch of loose soil.
"We get over 22 million visitors a year, and I can only imagine that number will grow once we have a Neiman Marcus," Francis Scire Jr., vice president of leasing for mall owner Simon Property Group Inc., said during a media tour.
The redevelopment, underway since September 2013, will also feature a new wing with up to 20 high-end retailers. A new "dining district" will have 1,250 seats and 17 eateries including sit-down casual restaurants. The dining area is scheduled to open in January 2015, while new retailers will replace the existing food court.
"The mall never looked terrible to me, but I'm sure young people like the latest," said retired teacher Eve Ciardiello of New Hyde Park, who frequently shops at Macy's. "The food court was outdated and needed more healthy options."
Restaurants opening their first Long Island locations at Roosevelt Field include Brother Jimmy's BBQ; Little Beet, a farm-to-table fast-food eatery; Melt Shop, serving grilled sandwiches and milkshakes; and Tres Carnes, a Texas-smoked Mexican eatery.
Opening next month will be clothing retailer UNIQLO in a 9,230-square-foot store, followed by denim retailer G Star RAW later this fall. Ann Taylor will reopen in the fall.
A new, nearly completed two-level parking garage with 942 spaces will be near mall entrances to Macy's and Neiman Marcus. There will also be an expanded northwest parking deck with an additional 200 spaces.
The interior mall makeover includes new restrooms, energy-efficient LED lighting, tiled floors, bright common areas with soft seating and charging stations, and increased natural light from new skylight glass.
More than 2,900 construction jobs have been created during the redevelopment, mall officials said. Roosevelt Field employs 5,500 retail workers and generates $109 million in taxes.
The mall expansion kept rolling despite critics' contentions that it would worsen traffic, air quality and noise, and endanger pedestrians.
"There would be very little to no impact on the traffic as it flows into the shopping center," Scire said.
In June the Hempstead Town board voted to settle a lawsuit brought by a Garden City real estate attorney who was attempting to block a local zoning ordinance approved in October 2013 that allowed the mall expansion.