The long-awaited expansion of the Rego Center is expected to open as early as February, but it might take some more time for it to fill up with retailers.
Costco and T.J. Maxx are the latest stores to sign on with the expanded mall. But the only other tenants currently booked for the massive red building off Junction Blvd. and the Long Island Expressway are two department stores - Century 21 and Kohl's - along with a Subway sandwich shop, an official from mall developer Vornado Realty Trust said last week.
While those stores fill the cellar and upper floors of the mall, the first floor is virtually empty except for the Subway shop.
"As there is a lot more activity in the center, we expect there to be more interest," James Bry, Vornado's senior vice president of development, told the members of Community Board 6 on Thursday night.
Costco will replace the Home Depot that was originally planned for that spot. Several months ago, Home Depot officials decided to pull out of the mall.
An existing Home Depot is located just a few miles away on Woodhaven Blvd.
"We tried really hard to make sure we got something in there that is a good fit with the center," Bry said. "This [Costco] may even be a better fit."
Construction started on the site, a parking lot for the former Alexander's department store, more than two years ago. The existing mall adjacent to the site features a Sears, Bed Bath & Beyond and Old Navy. That replaced Alexander's, whose red facade was a landmark of sorts on Queens Blvd.
Early versions of the plan, which has been amended, included two residential towers. Bry said the company still has permission to build one of the towers and hopes to do so if the housing market improves.
Costco is not expected to open until August 2010. In the meantime, the developers hope to close deals with other retailers and restaurants for the street-level space. Negotiations are ongoing, Bry said.
He also said a supermarket isn't out of the question. Resident have said a large food store is sorely needed in the area.
Community Board 6 Chairman Joseph Hennessy said he and other members were concerned about the traffic patterns around the new mall. He called for a meeting with Vornado and city Transportation Department officials.
"You have Junction Blvd. and Horace Harding [Expressway] there," Hennessy said. "It's going to be a mess, a mess."