Westchester’s First Shopping Center and One of the Nation’s Earliest Outdoor Retail Destinations, Celebrates Remarkable Milestone
YONKERS, N.Y. (April 2014) – In 1954, the average cost of a movie ticket was 70 cents, Elvis Presley began his music career, Sports Illustrated premiered its first issue and Cross County Shopping Center celebrated its grand opening in Yonkers, New York on April 28th. News 12 Westchester Anchor and Emmy Award Winner Tara Rosenblum will emcee a VIP kick-off celebration in honor of this remarkable milestone on April 28, 2014 that includes a video presentation and time capsule ceremony. A customer-focused event will take place this summer.
Sixty years ago Cross County Shopping Center was not only the first large-scale shopping center in Westchester, but one of the most ambitious projects of its kind in the nation. The builder was county resident Sol Atlas and, with financial backing from Scarsdale businessman Leonard Marx Sr., he began the facility with about 30 stores. Within a short time it expanded to include more than a dozen different buildings and nearly 100 stores anchored by Gimbels and Wanamaker.
“Cross County Shopping Center encompasses more than 70 acres and since the opening in 1954 the owner’s developed a strategic vision and plan that would allow us to continue to develop and evolve the retail space to meet the needs of the market,” said Claude Chandonnet, president and chief executive officer of Merchants’ National Properties, Inc. and executive vice president for the property’s owners, Brooks Shopping Centers, LLC. “We are strategic in leasing to the retailers and service providers that make the most sense for our customers and have been working for sixty years to bring this vision to fruition.”
With legendary retailers F.W. Woolworth, Stride Rite Shoes, Lerner’s and Lubin’s leading the way, on opening day, April 28, 1954, a local community newspaper called Cross County Guide headlined: “The world’s largest and greatest shopping center, the $30,000,000 Cross County Center, becomes a living reality.” The grand opening ceremony was attended by politicians, dignitaries, community leaders and numerous celebrities including Martha Raye, Jackie Cooper, Morey Amsterdam, and Carl Reiner. Famed NY Yankee’s baseball player Jackie Robinson also attended with his wife, Rachel.
An Indian Trading Rock still located next to the center’s flagpole, is a historical site where the trading of goods took place between Native Americans. It is an easy reminder of the shopping center’s history while still remaining true to its purpose for regional shoppers at the present.
Today, Cross County Shopping Center remains one of the nation’s most successful open-air retail complexes. And, as a testament to the success of the shopping center, two businesses, Suzette’s Lingerie and Sterling Optical, remain the oldest retailers at the center, having been open since the late 1950s. They are joined by a fresh merchandise selection that includes national and international retailers such as Zara, H&M, Steve Madden, Chipotle, Panera Bread Café, Red Mango more. In 2015 Hyatt Place Yonkers will open in the center of Cross County, adding another dynamic layer to the shopping experience.
“Throughout the last six decades Cross County has enjoyed a steady growth in its business and an increase in daily shoppers,” said James Stifel, chief investment officer for Benenson Capital Partners, LLC and executive vice president for the property’s owners, Brooks Shopping Centers, LLC. “The success of Cross County is a testimony to its strategic location and the vision of its founders. We are proud to continue to offer customers convenience and top retail choices.”
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said: “Cross County has been a part of the lives of millions of Westchester and area residents since it opened, including my own family. It continues to make history today as one of the most vibrant and vital retail centers in the New York metro area. Yonkers is fortunate to have Cross County call our city its home.”
“As one of the first outdoor shopping malls ever constructed, the Cross County Shopping Center is an iconic part of Westchester County’s dynamic history that has welcomed residents and visitors for 60 years,” said County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “We are fortunate that this landmark property has not only been preserved, but reinvented to serve Westchester County’s $1.7 billion tourism industry and remain a top shopping destination for generations to come.”
The 60th anniversary celebration will be highlighted throughout 2014 with digital photo galleries, social media contests and during SummerFest. SummerFest includes a series of outdoor events and promotions from June through August, geared towards Westchester families. The entire community is invited to a special SummerFest event called 60 Years of Summers on July 12 from 10am to 7pm as we celebrate the past, present and future of Cross County Shopping Center. The event will include decades-themed fashion shows, strolling entertainers, live music and more and takes place on The Green, in the center of the mall.
Cross County Shopping Center continues to be an economic driver for the City of
Yonkers and the surrounding region,” said Democratic Conference Leader Andrea
Stewart-Cousins. “This is certainly an occasion worth celebrating and I would
like to applaud the center for its innovative growth over the years and
the positive impact it has had on our community.”
New York Senator Jeffrey D. Klein said: "For sixty years, the Cross County Shopping Center has served local residents with world-class retail and dining options. And with the Hyatt Place Yonkers set to open next year, the Cross County will continue its proud tradition of offering a diverse range of services to Westchester County residents. Congratulations on the Cross County's 60th anniversary and to many more to come."
For more information about Cross County Shopping Center, visit www.crosscountycentersummerfest.com.
Cross County Shopping Center, owned by Brooks Shopping Centers, LLC, was acquired by Leonard Marx, Sr. and Charles Benenson in 1977 on behalf of a strategic partnership between Merchants’ National Properties, Inc., and Benenson Capital Partners, LLC. Merchants’ National Properties, Inc. (NASDAQ-MNPP) (www.merchantsnationalproperties.com), a prominent New York City based real estate investment, development and management company; incorporated in 1928, currently has interest in 74 properties in 18 states. Benenson Capital Partners, LLC (www.benensoncapital.com), a New York–based privately held real estate, development and management firm dating back to 1905, has holdings in over 140 properties throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.
Cross County Shopping Center is professionally managed by Macerich, a fully integrated self-managed and self-administered real estate investment trust, which focuses on the acquisition, leasing, management, development and redevelopment of regional malls throughout the United States.