A bit of suburbia has come to downtown and Brooklynites can’t seem
to get enough of it.
When Atlantic Terminal swung open its doors last Sunday, there was hardly
any room to move. Shoppers flocked to the four-story 192,000-square-foot
shopping mall armed with cash and credit cards, and either loads of patience
— to brave the crowds and elbow their way into the new stores —
or years of shopping savvy.
The opening day “carnival,” as it was billed by developer Forest
City Ratner, with free hot dogs, popcorn and pretzels, as well as clowns
and face painting, may have attracted some, but many others came to shop.
So many came to shop, in fact, that the Target department store, anchor
tenant of the mall, quickly became that company’s highest grossing
store in the country — a position it has held in the several days
since the store opened(except on Tuesday when rain kept shoppers away
and the store dipped to number three in the nation).
In order to keep up with the pace of shoppers, Target will hire 100 more
employees to aid its current staff of 450, said the store’s manager.
“It has exceeded even our own expectations,” said manager Marcus
On Thursday afternoon, Elizabeth Magnum, of Prospect Heights, who was
babysitting for Chloe, 3, and Oliver,1, was out for a stroll through the
“I love it,” said Magnum, explaining that she had plenty of
room to maneuver the doublewide stroller through the store.
Despite the general enthusiasm for the mall, opponents of the $2.5 billion
Atlantic Yards development, proposed to be built across the street from
the mall by Forest City Ratner principal Bruce Ratner, took to the streets
on the mall’s opening day.
“We were not there to protest the mall, we were there to inform the
public about his other project,” said Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman
for Develop-Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, referring to Ratner.
The real estate mogul secured $114 million in Liberty Bonds, intended
for the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan after 9-11, to build the Bank
of New York office building and the attached $150 million mall. That covered
nearly half of the $240 million development.
He now seeks to build a 19,000-seat arena, residential and commercial
development on 23 acres emanating from the intersection of Flatbush and
Atlantic avenues and extending over to Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights.
Critics of the plan, carrying anti-arena placards, said the new mall has
already clogged local streets with traffic and they fear what will happen
if the Atlantic Yards plan, including three soaring commercial towers
and 13 residential buildings, is built.
Indeed, on Sunday, traffic on Atlantic Avenue was backed up all the way
to Court Street for much of the day.. Parking for 650 cars is available
in Ratner’s much-maligned Atlantic Center mall, across the street
from Atlantic Terminal, but a Forest City Ratner spokeswoman declined
to comment on how full the parking lot has been since the new mall opened.
A pedestrian bridge connects the two malls through Target. Shopping carts
from Target cannot by taken across the bridge to the parking garage or
out into the mall.
Meanwhile, on the mall’s third floor, a Chuck E. Cheese’s pizzeria-video
arcade has been attracting a steady stream of customers and has already
played host to more than 20 birthday parties, according to manager Tonya
The restaurant is the chain’s only current Brooklyn outlet —
they operated one in the former Caesar’s Bay Bazaar at Bay Parkway
in the 1980s.
DSW shoe warehouse, Bath & Body Works, Daffy’s clothing, McDonald’s,
Rockaway Bedding and GameStop also opened in the mall this week.
Other stores and offices opening in the near future include Starbucks
(in addition to a small Starbucks inside Target), Avenue, Mandee, The
Children’s Place, Coldstone Creamery, Payless ShoeSource, Verizon
Wireless, Houlihan’s, Guitar Center, Men’s Wearhouse, Mrs. Fields/TCBY
and Atlantic Terminal Dental.
The Atlantic Terminal mall sits atop the convergence of 10 subway lines
and the Long Island Rail Road at the Atlantic Avenue hub.
Bill Baird, a retired architect from Brighton Beach, stopped to visit
the mall on Thursday on his way to catch the LIRR out to Long Island.
Staring up at the historic Brooklyn Sanborn maps printed on the ceiling,
which detail boundaries and structures for property throughout the city,
he said, “I think this is beautiful.”