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Sunrise Mall is returning, shedding its Westfield Sunrise name 

Sunrise Mall was rechristened Westfield Sunrise after its

Sunrise Mall was rechristened Westfield Sunrise after its 2005 sale to an Australia-based company. Credit: Timothy Fadek

Westfield Sunrise is going back to its roots.

The nearly 50-year-old property in Massapequa will be renamed Sunrise Mall, which is the name it had before it was sold in 2005.

The owner, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, a Paris-based company with 89 malls and shopping centers, said it is returning some of its properties to their “original community names” as part of a strategy to selectively use the Westfield brand.

“This mimics the company’s strategy in Europe where only some assets have the Westfield brand, and most have regionally specific monikers,” a URW spokesman said. The mall is near Sunrise Highway. 

Last year, URW returned Westfield Sarasota Square in Florida back to the mall’s original name, Sarasota Square. 

Westfield Sunrise’s name change will be rolled out on signs and social media over the next several months, and will be done by fall, the URW spokesman said.

Its sister mall on Long Island, Westfield South Shore in Bay Shore, formerly known as South Shore Mall, will not have a name change, URW said.

Westfield Sunrise was built in 1973 and is about 1 million square feet in size. The mall’s anchor tenants include Macy’s, Sears, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Dave & Buster’s. 

In 2005, Australia-based Westfield Corp. bought what was then known as Sunrise Mall from the Muss-Tankoos Corp. Westfield also had bought what was then known as South Shore Mall from Macy’s Acquiring Corp. in 1986.

In 2017, French property investor Unibail-Rodamco bought Westfield, which then owned 35 shopping centers and malls in the United States and Britain, forming Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.

Malls across the country have seen their foot traffic plummet amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and among six major malls on Long Island, Westfield Sunrise has been hit the hardest, according to an analytics firm. The mall's owner declined to comment on whether the name change was part of an effort to attract more customers.

During the week of July 20, Westfield Sunrise’s foot traffic was down 40.9% compared to the same period a year earlier, which was the biggest decline among six major malls on Long Island, according to Placer.ai, a Los Altos, California-based firm that analyzes foot traffic using location data from mobile devices.

Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream had the smallest decline, 7.7%, while foot traffic at Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station was down 36.5%, according to Placer.ai.  

But considering New York State’s strict lockdown on malls during the pandemic, Westfield Sunrise — and Long Island malls in general — are recovering relatively well, Placer.ai spokesman Ethan Chernofsky said.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered enclosed malls to close by March 19, and allowed them to reopen on Long Island on July 10.

“Context is key. … It’s really a testament to how they handled their recovery after getting hit so hard,” Chernofsky said.

Thousands of store closings nationwide that were meant to be temporary will become permanent as retailers go months without revenue from brick-and-mortar locations, retail experts said.

There will be a record 20,000 to 25,000 store closures in the United States in 2020, topping last year’s record of about 9,820 closings, according to estimates from Coresight Research, a Manhattan-based retail analysis provider.

At least 55% of the closings this year will be at malls, which were already struggling before the pandemic because they were too dependent on department and apparel stores — two retail categories that are losing customers to online competitors, Coresight said.

Drop-off in mall traffic

The numbers below show how much foot traffic was down at six reopened malls during the week of July 20, compared to the same period a year earlier.

Westfield Sunrise – 40.9%

Walt Whitman Shops – 36.5%

Roosevelt Field mall – 34.9%

Smith Haven Mall – 34.8%

Westfield South Shore – 29.4%

Green Acres Mall – 7.7%

Source: Placer.ai

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