Marx Realty, which jointly owns the Cross County Shopping Center in Yonkers with Benenson Capital Management, is taking over leasing and management responsibilities for the 1,150,000-square-foot property. Marx is a division of New York City-based Merchants National Properties, which has a portfolio of 67 properties in 17 states.
Mark Utreras, formerly with Newmark Knight Frank (NKF), has been made Marx’s senior director of leasing and will be responsible for leasing at Cross County. In addition, Marx plans to hire up to 10 additional leasing team members. While at NKF, Utreras served as associate director representing landlords and developers such as RXR Realty, Muss Development and SL Green Realty. He was credited with completing retail lease transactions valued at more than $450 million.
“He will focus solely on Cross County Shopping Center, which is really the first time we’ve had someone dedicated to Cross County,” Craig Deitelzweig, president and CEO of Marx Realty, told the Business Journal. “He’ll get to know every tenant there, every tenant who wants to be there and every tenant that we’re focused on bringing to the center.”
The move to bring leasing and management directly under Marx’s wing coincides with an underlying transition program to build activity at the center and bring the former Sears store back into service following its closing in July 2019. The four-story building contains about 200,000 square feet of space.
“We are actually negotiating with some of the best tenants right now in the entire country for that site and we’re thinking of breaking it up into different floors,” Deitelzweig said. “We have various renderings of what the building could look like, but we do want to customize it due to specific tenant’s desires. There also are different schemes depending on the different sizes of the tenants, but I can tell you that it will be one of the most dynamic-looking areas in the entire center and in any center.” He did not disclose the prospects nor predict when leases might be signed.
Deitelzweig said although the Cross County store was the highest grossing in the U.S. for the Sears chain, the building didn’t seem physically connected to the rest of the shopping center.
“We’re going to connect it by different landscaping methods,” he said. “We will have different seating areas, different floor areas. It will have very much a town center feel to it.”
Deitelzweig said except for the former Sears store, Cross County is about 99% leased. He said they’ve been talking to some of the existing tenants about renewing their leases early in addition to retailers who would become new tenants.
“There are a lot of stores that are in other centers that are looking to leave those centers,” he said. “This center is almost a retail miracle because tenants are just dying to get into this space.”
Cross County was the first open-air shopping center in the U.S., opened in 1954 by developer Sol Atlas. Its history is not lost on Deitelzweig.
“We’re very mindful of our history and how emotionally people are attached to the center and it’s really part of their lives. We’re taking what’s good and making it better. It’s just really a matter of getting the right mix. Keeping those brands that resonate with the customer and bringing in fresh brands as well,” he said.
The Cross County Shopping Center is on 71 acres of land at the junction of the Cross County Parkway and New York State Thruway (Interstate 87). In response to a Business Journal inquiry last fall, Marx estimated that 11 million people visit the Cross County Shopping Center each year and an estimated 224,000 cars pass by the property daily. The center underwent a $250 million upgrade and modernization in 2011.
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